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US tourist visiting Assam tests positive for COVID-19

By City Correspondent

GUWAHATI, March 7 - After an American tourist, who had travelled to the State recently, tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Bhutan yesterday, the health department is on high alert and has identified 127 people who had come into contact with him.

Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Pijush Hazarika said the government has tracked his entire travel schedule in the State. The American had traveled to Jorhat on February 22 and proceeded to Guwahati via the river cruise liner MV Mahabahu Brahmaputra the next day after spending the night at Thengal Manor.

The staff of Thengal Manor has been placed in isolation and a health team is monitoring their status on a daily basis. They are all asymptomatic.

The river cruise liner MV Mahabahu Brahmaputra has returned to Neamatighat, Jorhat. The cruise liner has 22 guests and 29 crew members. All have been placed in isolation in the vessel itself, presently moored at Neamatighat, and were screened.

The second floor of Radisson Blu hotel in Guwahati where the US tourist had stayed a night has been blocked off. Officials in the hotel said CCTV footage was checked and 24 staff who came into contact with the tourist identified and have been kept in isolation.

�We sanitised the floor. Today again, the health department officials got it sanitised and checked out sanitisation standards. All our 250 staff were called and screened. The 24 people, who came in touch with the American tourist, were normal, but will be kept in isolation for the next seven days,� the officials said.

The second floor of the hotel will be blocked for two weeks, and will be opened only after the health department certifies.

The minister said if any person develops fever and any other symptom then they will be shifted to an isolation ward.

The health department has set up isolation wards with altogether 56 beds at the six medical colleges of the State in order to combat novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

�The State is prepared with all necessary equipment and isolation wards. Out of the 56, a nine-bed isolation ward was set up at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH). Examinations of blood samples are being conducted at the GMCH and the department will soon set up another laboratory at the Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH) in Dibrugarh. Screening at the airports is being carried out. Till date, 585 passengers were screened in different airports of the State and 112 of them have come to the State from infected places like Hong Kong, China, Dubai, America and other parts of the world. They have been kept under surveillance,� the minister said.

There was no confirmed case in the State but the persons who have come from the infected countries have been kept in self-quarantine as a precautionary measure.

�Altogether eight people were tested yesterday and the reports of seven persons came negative. A Thailand national has been kept under medical observation at Tezpur by the district administration,� Hazarika added.

Apart from the screening centres at six airports in the State, screening centres in the border areas have also been set up at Mankachar in lower Assam, at Karimganj and at Udalguri.

Admitting that there can be a shortage of sanitisers and masks in the State due to the situation, the minister said, �People are advised not to panic if they come across shortage of masks and sanitisers in the market. People can maintain their personal hygiene through soap and general mask also. However, the government will take adequate steps to ensure availability of masks and sanitisers for the public.�

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