'Health more important than economy': Assam's Himanta Biswa Sarma says coronavirus lockdown must be lifted in phased manner
Himanta Biswa Sarma Sarma said that if the lockdown has to be lifted, it has to be done in a phased manner, adding that he had spent sleepless nights overseeing and monitoring healthcare services.
“Public health, as of now, is more important than economy,” said Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. Sarma was responding to a question by News18 on withdrawal of the 21-day total lockdown in the country, adding that the state government would abide by the call taken by the Centre.
Sarma said that if the lockdown has to be lifted, it has to be done in a phased manner, adding that he had spent sleepless nights overseeing and monitoring healthcare services,
“So far, the situation is under control. We haven't seen the spread of infection. But, if you step out of the lockdown, and if people come out for day-to-day business, we cannot tell what will be the situation like. There are lakhs of youth working outside the North East, they are our children. When lockdown is lifted, they would want to return to their state, and they will all be coming from places that are now hotbed for coronavirus infection.”
The Assam government was earlier planning to initiate an online registration process similar to the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system for people returning from other parts of the country.
“This call has to be taken very seriously. It will be difficult call to choose between public health and economy, but I would like to go with the view that public health is more important, as of now, than economy,” said Sarma.
Assam registered it’s first COVID-19 death on Friday: the 65-year-old patient from Hailakandi district who tested positive Tuesday night was a Nizamuddin Markaz attendee, and had returned from Saudi Arabia. He passed away due to coronavirus complications at 1:55 am, and was in intensive care at the Silchar Medical College Hospital. The state now has 28 active cases till 10 April, 27 of which are related to the Nizamuddin congregation in south Delhi.
“It has been an arduous task. Despite repeated requests, cooperation has not been the way it should have been. There is still a tendency to conceal certain information. Nevertheless, we have identified 99 percent people who returned from Nizamuddin,” the state health minister confirmed.
Over 2,650 samples have been tested in Assam, so far, with the government planning to go for rapid testing in rural areas. The situation remains worrisome in the minority-dominated areas of Assam.
Manipur and Tripura have reported two positive cases each, while Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram have reported one case each.
According to state health officials, at least 4 to 5 patients from Assam, the first COVID-19 patient from Manipur and the only patient from Mizoram to be infected by coronavirus are on the road to recovery.
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