Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma addressing a press conference on July 16

Assam will be launching a nationwide campaign to attract plasma donors for treatment of COVID-19 patients as the virus has been spreading rapidly in the state, with over 12,000 cases detected in a month.

Addressing a press conference in Guwahati on July 16, state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “From tomorrow, we will launch a publicity campaign, urging recovered COVID-19 patients who were symptomatic to come forward to donate plasma. Plasma extracted from blood of one recovered patient can save two new patients.”

“We urge them to call and register at 104 helpline number. Henceforth, we shall also have plasma donation cards kept at hospitals which the patients can sign at the time of discharge,” he added.

Pointing that plasma of recovered patients holds no value after three months, he appealed recovered patients of other states to come forward to donate their plasma in Assam.

He said, “We shall start a publicity drive through national media from day after tomorrow to invite plasma donors from other states to help the patients here. The state government shall extend state guest status to such willing persons from other states. By October, we will have enough number of recovered patients in our own state, but till then, we request others to help us.”

For plasma donors from the state, the government is mulling extending advantages in the form of preferential treatment while availing certain benefits, Sarma said, adding that the details are being worked out.

“The state has invested so much on each COVID-19 patients, nearly breaking the backbone of the state’s economy. After recovery, they can donate their plasma as it is completely safe,” the minister said.

He stressed that if plasma therapy is given during moderate stage of the patient’s health condition, 90% patients recover as per international studies.

The minister informed that three patients at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) are currently being administered plasma therapy.

Sarma further said the state has already started ‘aggressive treatment protocols’ right from moderate stage to keep control on the mortality rate of COVID-19 patients and this has achieved the desired result.

He also announced of a telemedicine unit from next week to assist COVID-19 positive patients in home isolation, while claiming that people were reluctant to avail the facility.

He added that institutional quarantine for rail and air travelers has been done away with, and the travelers are allowed to proceed to their homes if they test negative in antigen kits. If they are later found positive through RT-PCR test, they are brought to the hospitals for treatment.

The minister pointed that the number of COVID-19 deaths in the state is 48, which translates into 0.24% mortality rate, while the recovery rate is at 65. The state is at the bottom in terms of mortality rate among states of similar size, while in case of recovery state, it is currently in the fourth position in the country.

The overall COVID-19 tally in the state will cross 20,000 by July 16 evening, he said, adding that 12,218 new cases were detected between June 15 to July 15.

The number of tests will breach 6 lakh-mark on July 16 evening, and with 17,800 tests per million, the state is in the fourth position in that section in the country.

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