GUWAHATI: A day after Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed that there is no COVID in the state and hence no need to wear mask now, the health and family welfare department Sunday issued fresh notifications for mandatory testing of air and train passengers coming to the state from Mumbai and Bengaluru to check the spread of virus.
Separate orders have been issued for air and train passengers and the rates for COVID testing by the department’s Principal Secretary Samir Sinha.
The minister had on Saturday said that there is no COVID in Assam and so there is no need to wear a mask now which triggered widespread criticism.
Subsequently Sarma tweeted, “those who are making fun of my statement on mask, must come to Assam and see how we have contained COVID-19 in comparison to states like Delhi, Kerala and Maharashtra along with an impressive recovery of our economy”.
“We will celebrate Bihu also with the same enthusiasm this year”, he added.
Bihu, the Assamese new year is falling on April 14.
According to the order issued, all air passengers from Mumbai and Bengaluru disembarking in any airport of Assam will mandatorily need to carry a negative RT-PCR report, conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey and the test report should be verifiable using QR code or otherwise.
Airlines would allow boarding to only those passengers at Mumbai and Bengaluru who are carrying the negative RT-PCR test report.
Any passenger from these two cities who arrive without satisfactory RT-PCR test report will have to undergo paid COVID-19 testing at the airport and will wait in designated location inside airport premises at his own expense till the test result is available.
If the test is positive, the passenger will have to shift to home isolation or hospital, according to the treatment protocol and this order comes into force from April nine.
All passengers, arriving in trains originating from or transiting through Maharashtra and/or Karnataka will undergo screening for symptoms on arrival in railway stations in Assam.
All symptomatic passengers will undergo COVID-19 test and there will also be random Rapid Antigen Test of passengers from among those found to be asymptomatic.
If the test is positive, the passenger will be shifted to home isolation or hospital, as per treatment protocol and this order comes into force with immediate effect.
Regarding contact tracing of COVID-19 positive patients, an order passed to ensure that at least 20 to 25 contacts should be identified who have been exposed to the infected individual.
Apart from rapid antigen test, RT-PCR test should also be carried out for the identified contact in case the rapid test is negative, the order stated.
The health departmen thas also fixed the maximum rates chargeable by NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories ) and ICMR approved private sector laboratories in the state and this ranges from Rs 500/- for RT-PCR samples collected at the labs, Rs 750 for samples collected from home and Rs 250 for rapid antigen test.
The maximum rate chargeable for RT-PCR test at the airports in the state has been fixed at Rs 500 for all approved laboratories.
Assam reported 68 new cases during the last 24 hours with no deaths, taking the total COVID positive cases to 2,18,601 and the death toll to 1107.
There are currently 598 COVID cases in the state with 2,15,549 recovered patients discharged so far.
The state has so far conducted 72,71,998 cumulative tests.