The Health department will conduct 50,000 random tests in Guwahati city following the recent spike in COVID-19 positive cases, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday. He said the state government may consider imposing a lockdown if a sizeable number of new cases are detected.
Guwahati city considered the Gateway to the North East, has so far reported 176 positive cases and of these 25 persons are from the community with no travel history.
"The situation in Guwahati is a matter of particular concern and we have been analysing the situation to find out a reason for cases from the community and ways to break the chain", the minister said while addressing a press conference.
In the next 15-days, "we will conduct 50,000 tests to break the chain and if we find that there is a sizeable number of positive cases, then the government may take measures to impose certain restrictions", he said.
"We do not want to impose lockdown immediately based on 25 cases from the community but want to base our decision on a more scientific assessment", he said.
The economy is slowly limping back to normal and "we do not want to disturb it as far as possible but if the situation demands, we will have to take tough decisions", the minister said.
Social distancing and wearing of masks or face covers will be strictly enforced while advancing the curfew to 7 pm from 9 pm may also be considered, he said.
"The government is moving cautiously and will initially concentrate on testing and surveillance", Sarma added.
From June 16, people can also give their samples in 12 government hospitals and state dispensaries for testing, he said.
After preliminary analysis, it has been found that loading and unloading of trucks take three to four days and according to the directive of the Union Home ministry, the drivers are not tested as they are involved in the movement of essential commodities, he said.
"We found that the persons testing positive are mostly employees of godowns, salesperson, or residents of areas where the vehicles are parked and those who come in contact with its drivers", the minister added.
Testing will be conducted at godowns, petrol pumps, parking lots, dhabas and other public places while owners of these places will be asked to encourage their employees to give their samples for testing, he said.
Similarly, in other towns like Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Sivasagar and Tezpur, testing of people from these public places and shops, in particular, will be encouraged.
"So far we are doing good and we want to maintain it", the minister added.
Kamrup (Metro) district administration, under which the city falls, has declared 36 areas as containment zones following the recent spike in positive cases.
Assam has so far reported a total of 3,718 cases, of which 2,123 are active cases, 1,584 people have been cured and discharged from different hospitals, three persons have migrated out of the state and eight persons have died of COVID-19.