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Coronavirus | Used PPEs wash up in Assam floods, raise concern over COVID-19 spread

Volunteers help fight coronavirus, floods in Assam, July 18, 2020   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Adding to the worries of authorities, floodwaters in Assam have spread discarded medical waste from hospitals and COVID Care Centres, raising fears of infection among people in inundated areas.

Three more people drowned on Saturday, taking the rain-related toll to 105. While 79 persons have drowned or were washed away, 26 died in landslides.

Officials of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) have voiced concern over reports of discarded personal protection equipment kits, masks, blood pouches, syringes and other hospital wastes amid floodwaters in some parts of the State.

Locals in Chandrapur near Guwahati had complained to the authorities about such discarded wastes flowing into their compounds. Officials said a private firm had been assigned to collect and destroy such wastes but had dumped it in the open instead.

Also read: Five more die in Assam floods, toll 71

“We have asked the Deputy Commissioner concerned to take action immediately,” said M.S. Manivannan, Chief Executive Officer of Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA).

The flood situation meanwhile improved with 12.16 lakh people returning to their homes overnight. The number of affected people has now come down to 27.64 lakh.

Likewise, the number of people in 290 relief camps came down by 1,848 to 47,465.

“Two people drowned Barpeta district and another in South Salmara district. Three more deaths were reported from other districts, but they were not related to the floods,” an ASDMA spokesperson said.

Western Assam’s Dhubri district continued to be the worst-affected district with 4.69 lakh people in makeshift camps of their own arrangement. Goalpara had 4.49 lakh affected people at the last count followed by Barpeta (3.55 lakh), Morigaon (3.52 lakh) and South Salmara (2.25 lakh).

The water level in the 1,055 sq km Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve has also subsided. Officials said 85% of the park was still under water, with 59 of the 223 anti-poaching camps inundated.

The flood has so far claimed 96 animals; seven one-horned rhinos and two Asiatic water buffaloes were among 39 animals that drowned. Most of the animals killed were hog deer, 15 of which were hit by vehicles while trying to cross a highway on the southern edge of the park to escape to the hills beyond.

The State has faced two waves of floods since May 22 affecting more than 53.5 lakh people across 30 of 33 districts.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 6:41:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/concerns-over-covid-19-spread-as-discarded-ppes-masks-wash-up-in-assam-floods/article32125259.ece

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