File Photo: Himanta Biswa Sarma

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Assam witnessed a massive spike during the last few days, state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on May 21 said it is just the ‘tip of iceberg’ as lakhs of people are expected to return to the state.

Addressing a press conference in Guwahati, Sarma said, “So far, we have received about 37,000 people through road and trains. We are expecting about 12 lakh people to return. We are getting just the tip of the iceberg”.

He pointed that the doubling rate of detected cases is rapidly increasing, mentioning that it took 27 days for 20 cases to reach 40, then 13 days for 40 to reach 80, and 79 touched 157 in six days.

Out of 191 positive cases in the state so far, 112 are with travel history, 36 are linked to Nizamuddin Markaz of Delhi, 32 were found through contact tracing in the Fancy Bazaar potato storage case and source of infection of nine is yet to be traced, the minister said, adding that details of some cases are yet to be included to the break-up as preliminary tracing is still on.

“We are dealing mostly with imported cases, mainly from west and south India. This trend will only increase, not decrease,” he said.

“The only way to can save ourselves from community transmission is through quarantine. Our government has adopted a policy of ruthless quarantine with a humane heart,” he added.

The minister reiterated that quarantine was mandatory for all returnees and the state government will bear all expenses of food and accommodation for the entire 14 days period.

He said village-level quarantine committees have been formed to ensure supervision of people returning from outside.

He pointed that the rural surveillance programme launched by the state to detect Influenza Like Illnesses has reached 21,000 villages so far and only 20,000 people with fever have been detected so far, with no COVID-19 positive case found even after testing 4,000 samples.

“The virus has not reached our villages. So we have to ensure that those returning do not spread in the villages,” Sarma added.

He said criminal case will be registered against anyone who jumps quarantine, while the government was also discussing on how to deal with people compromising social distancing and not wearing masks in many cases.

Altogether 191 COVID-19 positive cases have been detected in the state so far, out of which 54 have recovered and four have died.

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