Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Feb 12: Assam has been able to achieve success in the battle against COVID-19 to a very large extent but the fight against the virus is far from over, and so people must not let their guard down, Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Friday.

“2020-21 has been unprecedented in the history of mankind. The COVID-19 pandemic not only threatened the lives and health of all of us, it also resulted in a never witnessed before lockdown across the globe, including India, which impacted our GDP growth in the negative. Assam too faced adverse growth figures, especially in the first two quarters of this financial year and our revenue targets were affected. Our State, however, exhibited exemplary resilience and financial adroitness,” Sarma said in his vote on account 2021-22 speech in the Assam Legislative Assembly.

He said the united effort of all sections of society played a big role in the fight against COVID-19. “The number of cases was rapidly increasing but the resources were scarce. At such a critical time, citizens of Assam made generous financial contribution of Rs 116.89 crore to the Assam Arogya Nidhi in a very short time. I would like to express my gratitude to all the donors, and would also like to inform this House that we have not had to touch this fund so far. The entire fund has been kept intact and we will utilize it with utmost prudence to fight COVID in the coming times.”

Sarma, however, cautioned against any complacency. “Our fight against this virus or the recovery from the challenges posed by this pandemic is far from over. We have to remain alert and proactively prepare and manage the next phase of the fight. Vaccination drive to cover our population and give them a reasonable safety net is our next objective with a provision of 6.6 lakh vaccine doses. More than 1.15 lakh doses inoculations have been conducted till date,” said Sarma, who also holds the Health portfolio.

“Our State has consistently maintained a high COVID-19 recovery rate of 98.73 per cent and one of the lowest mortality rates at 0.50 per cent, which has been nationally and globally acknowledged,” he said, adding that for the rollout of the first phase of the vaccination for frontline workers, the Centre has provided a grant of Rs 2.46 crore to Assam.