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Domestic passengers to be screened at State airports

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 16 - With the coronavirus shifting to a �local transmission� stage following positive cases in many Indian States, domestic passengers will also be screened at the State airports from tomorrow in a bid to check the spread of the virus.

Addressing a press conference, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said 36 tests have been conducted in the State labs so far, and 34 are negative while results of two are pending.

Three laboratories in the State � GMCH, JMCH and RMRC Lahowal � have been accredited by the Indian Council for Medical Research and swab tests are now being conducted in these labs as well.

Sample collection centres have been opened at the medical colleges in Barpeta, Tezpur and Silchar, while the government is trying to get accreditation for the lab at Silchar Medical College as well.

Twenty nine tests have been conducted at GMCH so far, and 28 of the samples have tested negative, while the result of one is pending. Six tests � including the driver of the US tourist who had tested positive in Bhutan and five tourists onboard MV Mahabahu � were conducted at Lahowal and all were negative for COVID-19. One sample is being tested at JMCH and its result is awaited, the minister said.

The State has readied 2,000 quarantine facilities and 507 isolation beds to combat the virus in the event of any outbreak in the State.

However, the minister appeared worried that in case the virus spreads in Assam, it would not be easy for the government to tackle it given the State�s infrastructure.

�The ventilation capacity in government hospitals is 269, and they are now occupied by patients with other ailments. Prevention is better than cure�We therefore advice the people to take utmost care and maintain hygiene,� the minister said.

He also asked people and students returning from places like Kerala and Bangalore to visit the nearest government hospital in case there are symptoms of coronavirus, like sneezing, fever, runny nose, etc.

Appealing to people to avoid gatherings which are �not necessary�, Sarma said the education department has issued a directive to all teachers to conduct awareness camps in the vicinity of their schools as there would be no classes till March 31.

From tomorrow, surveillance activity will also be stepped up at the Rajdhani Express stoppages.

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