The Assam government has tightened its screening procedure for people entering the state, with no exemption for even those who have received both doses of the COVID vaccine, an official said on Sunday. With about five per cent of the fresh COVID-19 cases reported in Assam in the last few months being of fully vaccinated people, testing of everyone irrespective of their inoculation status has been made mandatory, he said.
The Assam government had on July 15 withdrawn its earlier order, dated June 25, 2021, in which it had exempted fully vaccinated air and train passengers from undergoing mandatory COVID tests.
The latest notification, issued by the Health Department, has said that "COVID positivity is observed even in some of the person(s) who have received both doses of vaccination in a few instances," and hence, the earlier given exemption was withdrawn.
"Some people who have got both the doses of COVID-19 vaccine are getting infected. While the symptoms in them may not be severe, they run the risk of being carriers," Dr Lakshmanan S, director, National Health Mission (NHM), Assam, told PTI.
He said that among the new COVID-19 cases detected in the last couple of months, approximately five per cent are people who were fully vaccinated.
A survey carried out by ICMR in Dibrugarh district in May and June had found that 5.3 per cent of the sample size that tested positive for COVID-19 had received both doses of the vaccine.
Among those who had received the first dose only, the positivity rate was 12.4 per cent. Altogether 6,224 people were surveyed, out of whom 772 had taken first dose, 332 second dose and 5,120 had not taken the vaccine at all.
The persons who had received both doses and yet tested positive for the virus had displayed "very mild symptoms and were in home isolation", the survey had found.
Dibrugarh district has reported the second-highest number of new cases and deaths in the second wave in the state so far.
Assam's decision to withdraw the exemption comes when in many other parts of the country, including Kerala and Mumbai, an exemption for fully vaccinated domestic travellers from carrying an RT-PCR negative report for COVID-19 has been announced.
The Kerala government had on Saturday said that negative RT-PCR test reports were no longer mandatory for inter-state travel and attending exams for persons who have received two doses of COVID vaccine.
A similar exemption from carrying the negative test reports was also given to people entering Mumbai from July 13.
The Assam government's decision to once again tighten the screening rules was also triggered due to apprehension of Delta plus variant entering and spreading in the state through people coming from outside, a Health official said.
However, no Delta plus variant case has been detected in the state so far, he said.
The Delta variant has been predominant in the state currently, with 77 per cent of random samples for April and May sent to the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics at Kalyani in West Bengal testing positive for this strain. The remaining were of Kappa strain.
As many as 1,30,056 new COVID-19 cases have been detected in the state between June 1 to July 17, while the deaths due to the virus during the period were 1,568.
The state's COVID-19 tally stands at 5,45,954, while the death toll is at 4,984.