123 more test positive for COVID-19 in Assam; total count 1,339

(Eds: With updates)

Guwahati, May 31 () Assam reported 123 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, taking the total tally in the state to 1,339, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

Twenty-two more patients have been cured of the disease and discharged on Sunday. Of the total cases, 1,147 are active while 185 people have recovered, four patients died and three have migrated out.

Addressing a press conference earlier in the evening, Sarma said the state government will now aim for reduced institutional quarantine and increased testing during June. Advertisement

"The number of cases in the state has increased, no doubt, since inter-state movement began but we have managed to cross a critical phase by increasing our testing facilities and ensuring a strict but humane quarantine system," the minister said.

"We have so far tested 1,04,083 people and the ramping up of our testing facilities is a shining example of public service by which we have convincingly crossed states like Kerala which was considered to be healthcare models", he said.

Of the total 1,04,083 samples tested so far, 4,033 were outsourced while the remaining were tested in the seven laboratories in the state. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College conducted maximum 22,054 tests followed by Guwahati Medical College Hospital at 22,052.
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"Assam has developed capacity to test 10,000 people daily and by June 15, two lakh people are expected to be tested," he said.

Sarma said with ramping up of testing facilities, the aim now is to reduce institutional quarantine to four days and increase home quarantine to 14 days. As of now, institutional quarantine will continue to be seven days but by June 10 "we expect to reduce it to four days but only if the test results are negative", the minister said. Advertisement

"We will not reduce institutional quarantine just for the sake of it, but only as we have the capacity of increased testing facilities," he said.

Sarma said that with Centre initiating more relaxations in the nationwide lockdown, the state government "cannot remain COVID-centric but we have to normalise the situation by co-existing with coronavirus to revive the economy".

The guidelines for the "unlockdown" will be announced on Monday but it will be more or less in lines with that of the Centre, he said. Advertisement

"As long as the quarantine system is robust and working, there is nothing to worry. We are activating village-level home quarantine system. We are moving from lockdown to unlockdown phase and we are confident about it," he said.

A standard operating procedure (SOP) was being prepared on how to tackle both floods and COVID-19 together, the minister said, adding the state government has so far quarantined 2,29,893 people and this has been possible due to the coordinated efforts of all agencies concerned.

"We expect people to return to the state by June 10 and till then we expect to ramp up the home quarantine system and bring down institutional quarantine to four days as this will also save public money," Sarma said.Advertisement

Most of the positive cases in Assam were being reported from quarantine centres and their samples were collected either before they enter the facility or on the first day itself, he said.

Of the total cases, 1,124 are those who came from other states after inter-state travel restrictions were lifted, 36 attended the Markaz event in delhi and 32 others were identified through contact tracing, 24 had no travel history and the others were being ascertained, the state health minister said.

All the districts in Assam have positive cases with Hojai having the highest 177 cases, followed by Kamrup (Metro) 124 and Morigaon with 79 while Majuli has only one patient. Advertisement

"All districts have COVID-19 patients but most are had travelled from outside. We had conducted community surveillance in 29,771 villages and found 26,000 people with fever but none of them tested positive," Sarma said

All district civil hospitals in the state have coronavirus patients, the minister said adding 50 model hospitals with each with 50 beds will be activated by June 5, he said. DG NSD
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