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No positive case so far; 1,003 people under home quarantine

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 20 - Stepping up its efforts to enforce social distancing to check the spread of coronavirus, the State government today announced 50 per cent attendance system at its offices from tomorrow and postponement of all examinations till March 31.

The State government has also decided to stamp incoming passengers in airports and railway stations from Sunday onwards to enforce home quarantine.

In the next 48 hours, the government will also take a call on restricting crowds at public places in the State.

�Stamping of people returning to the State from outside will start from Sunday at airports and railway stations, with an appeal from the government to the people to self-quarantine for 14 days and approach medical services if any symptom of the infection appears. The stamping will be done to ensure there is a social pressure on them as well to self-quarantine,� Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said at a press conference.

He said from tomorrow, all government offices, including educational institutions, will have 50 per cent attendance, and the rest will work from home till March 31. Routines on rotational basis for the staff will be prepared by the head of the office. This will, however, not apply to essential services, such as Health, Fire and Emergency Services, Power and Water Supply. The finance department and treasury offices have also been kept out of its purview.

In case of private establishments, he said the Prime Minister himself has requested them for rotational basis attendance without deducting salary, and hoped that it will be implemented.

The minister requested people in crowded public places to take steps to decongest themselves.

�We are assessing the crowded places, like Fancy Bazar, Machkhowa and Hatigaon in Guwahati, and in other towns also. We request them to decongest themselves. But depending on the situation, we may have to issue instruction to regulate these areas.�

He informed that all government and private passenger vehicles for public will run only in sitting capacity, and any vehicle found to have standing passengers, will be confiscated.

Similarly, in case of shops, soap and water for washing hands has to be kept, and failure to do so will lead to closure of such shops. Health inspectors will survey commercial establishments from tomorrow.

Government offices have been asked to buy soaps and towels from their establishment funds, without the need for tender or other formalities.

For shopping malls, the authorities will issue directive on the number of people, including staff, that can be present inside at any one point of time, the minister said.

While all educational institutions have been closed till March 29, all examinations, including board exams, also stand postponed till March 31, Sarma said.

The Health Minister maintained that the period till April 6 is �very critical for the State to break the chain� of contamination as the State is still in Stage 1 of the pandemic wherein only an outsider can bring the infection.

�If we assume that the last of the migrants from the State return by March 22, then the period of next 14 days, i.e., up to April 6, is critical. If we can overcome this, we can say we have broken the chain,� he said.

On possible impact on the economy, Sarma said, �Our economy has the inherent strength to take the impact for 2-3 months.� He also ruled out possibility of any shortage of essential commodities.

So far, 57 samples have been tested from the State for coronavirus and all have been found to be negative. The ICMR has also accredited the lab at Silchar Medical College to conduct coronavirus test, taking the number of approved labs in the State to four.

Altogether, 62,800 preliminary screenings have been done at railway stations and such places, and another 16,508 at airports in the State.

While 1,003 people have been placed under home quarantine, 41 people who showed symptoms were admitted at isolation units of various hospitals.

Out of the home quarantined people, 164 have completed their 28 days of confinement.

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