Other States

Low number of COVID-19 cases in northeast no reason to be complacent, says Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

Himanta Biswa Sarma. File photo  

Cases of COVID-19 have been low in the country’s northeast, but challenges on how to combat the disease are tougher. Speaking to The Hindu, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the low number of cases currently in the region was no reason to be complacent, and that the State government was taking various measures to build hospital-bed capacity and for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and ventilators.

“The challenge for us is to build capacity during this lockdown period, for equipment and hospital beds as well as quarantine facilities,” he said. To that end, the biggest step the government has taken is to convert the big government hospital in Guwahati only for COVID-19 and asking all other patients to shift to private hospitals. “We have extended Ayushman Bharat Scheme of cashless coverage to all persons in Assam going to any of the 36 private hospitals in the State. This will immediately relieve the stress on the government hospitals. Also, all hospitals attached to medical colleges in the State, seven in all, will be converted for COVID-19 treatment only,” he said.

An additional 2,500-bed private hospital only for COVID-19 is also in the works.

The State is also engaging engineering firm Larson and Toubro to build five temporary hospitals, each costing ₹40-50 crore, to be up and running in two months. “The life of these hospitals is five years as they will be made from pre-fabricated building material,” he said. The State government has placed orders for ventilators and PPE and is awaiting delivery.

A 700-bed quarantine facility has also been made ready in Guwahati in a local stadium. “We are using the lockdown period to build capacity, as we need to be ready to treat patients if and when numbers go up,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 10:40:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/low-number-of-covid-19-cases-in-northeast-no-reason-to-be-complacent-says-assam-minister-himanta-biswa-sarma/article31191658.ece

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