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NE will have to continue screening people coming from outside: ICMR

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, March 29 - The North East region will have to keep screening of the people coming from outside at least for some time even after the lockdown period is over to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This is the view of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). The ICMR also pointed out that till now there is no evidence of newspapers spreading coronavirus.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Director of the ICMR, Dr Rajni Kant said that making people aware of maintaining social distance is the key to stop spreading of coronavirus. Assam is very lucky that not a single coronavirus positive case has yet been detected in the State, but no one should lower their guard and efforts to make people aware of the importance of maintaining social distance is the key to halt the spread of the disease.

Dr Kant pointed out that the North East region would have to keep screening people coming from outside even after the lockdown is withdrawn. As the region is surrounded by foreign countries, a close watch should also be maintained to check all the people coming from abroad to ensure that no affected person can enter the region, he said. He said that even after the lockdown is withdrawn, screenings of people should continue in the entry points to the region including the airports, railway stations, foreigners� entry points on land borders etc for some time to prevent the spreading of the disease.

The ICMR Director said that till now, there is no evidence of newspapers spreading coronavirus. However, at the same time, he said that precautions should be taken and everyone should wash hands after reading a newspaper. At the same time, he said that such precaution should be taken after touching any material brought in from outside including the currency notes. No one should take any chance and adequate precautions should be taken, he added.

As many as 122 laboratories in the country are now certified to test COVID-19 and a few private laboratories have also been allowed to carry out the tests. Dr Kant said that Assam now has four laboratories to test COVID-19 and as no positive case has been detected so far, these laboratories are enough to deal with the situation. However, he said that in case of any requirement, the number of laboratories in the State can be increased and if necessary, private parties can also be roped in.

He assured that there would not be any shortage of laboratories in Assam.

Replying to a question on whether the COVID-19 virus spread will reduce as the temperature rises, Dr Kant said that many virus and bacteria cannot survive in hot weather. But there is no evidence to prove that the COVID-19 cannot survive in hot weather as no such study has yet been carried out. Moreover, there have been instances of spreading of the disease in relatively hot areas of India and other countries. However, at the same time, he said that the droplets coming out of a person when he coughs or sneezes would evaporate quickly in hot and dry conditions, which would reduce spreading of the disease.

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