File photo of Himanta Biswa Sarma

Conditional inter-district movement of people will be allowed in Assam for next three days from April 25 even as the state increased vigil on the districts bordering West Bengal due to high incidence of Novel Coronavirus cases in that state.

The Assam Kaziranga University admissions

Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said surveillance has been increased in districts of Dhubri and Kokrajhar, bordering West Bengal.

He said, “As the situation in West Bengal unfolds, there is a need to keep special watch on our border districts of Dhubri and Kokrajhar. We have all seen media reports of the situation in that state”.

“In the last 7-10 days, we might have become a little flexible as our positive cases were not there, but the West Bengal position has led us to increase surveillance, especially in the bordering areas,” he said.

The minister further said the detection of a new COVID -19 positive patient in Dhubri two days back, after a gap of one week of no confirmed cases in the state, is a worrying matter.

He said, “There is some concern over Dhubri. This latest patient was detected after 19 days of having come into contact with another positive patient. In Dhubri, though the number of cases is 5, but the increase has been steady, unlike in Golaghat (9 cases) and Morigaon (6 cases), where the detection was done within a couple of days”.

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Sarma informed that the Health department will conduct 150 random pool tests in Bilasipara, Chapar and Dhubri town areas on April 26 to detect any possible cases.

Meanwhile, nearly one lakh people applied for inter-district movement within Assam from April 25.

While over 31,000 people are likely to be allowed to use their own vehicles for the one-way passage, more than 40,000 will be provided free-of-cost public transportation by the state government.

Sarma said, “If the lockdown continues, we may open such inter-district movement through special permission at a later stage,” adding that no person from red zone will be allowed to travel outside from the district, though someone wishing to enter the district, will be permitted.

While patients and their attendants will be granted two-way permission for visiting hospitals, with the condition that the patient is travelling in the vehicle, people stranded in different districts, including students and migrant workers, will also be allowed to travel after due permission through their own vehicles or Assam State Transport Corporation buses.

The government has laid down specific rules for the travellers, including compulsorily wearing masks and boarding and getting down at designated points.

The state government on April 24 facilitated return of 391 students from Kota in Rajasthan through 17 buses, with the parents of the students bearing cost of the journey and the state government arranging for requisite permissions from states that require passage and sending eight police officials by air to oversee the task.

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Altogether 35 positive cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the state so far, with one patient succumbing to complications caused by the infection and 19 others cured and discharged from hospitals.

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