Northeast States rule out lockdown amid rising COVID-19 cases

Most favour containment zones in areas with reports of infection

January 06, 2022 06:21 pm | Updated 06:21 pm IST - GUWAHATI:

A woman takes covid-19 vaccine in Assam. File

A woman takes covid-19 vaccine in Assam. File

At least two northeastern States — Assam and Meghalaya — have ruled out lockdown as a step to check the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Lockdown would be the “last resort” to tackle the coronavirus, including its Omicron variant detected in at least eight persons in Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya. All the infected persons are returnees or visitors from elsewhere in India and abroad.

“There will be no immediate lockdown in our State,” Meghalaya’s Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said.

But as a precautionary measure, the Meghalaya government has extended the winter vacation till January 24. Schools and colleges in Meghalaya were closed in the third week of December 2021 for the winter vacation. The vacation was to have been over on January 10.

The hill State had a few days ago confirmed five Omicron cases, two of them from a village in the Ri-Bhoi district. The villagers, including two women declared infected with the variant, have refused to accept the report since they have no history of travelling beyond their homes and agricultural fields over the past few months.

In Assam, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the government would analyse a week’s COVID-19 data and take decisions accordingly. The positivity rate in the State has increased five-fold since December 30, 2021.

“The rising cases of COVID-19 is a matter of concern but there is no chance of a lockdown in Assam,” he said, adding the State has adequate beds and supply of oxygen to deal with the situation.

The Chief Minister also said the government would try to strike a balance between checking the spread of the virus and letting economic activities continue. This would be done by isolating areas with reports of infection from non-infected areas.

For instance, the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati has been declared out of bounds after more than 60 people on the campus, mostly students, tested positive for COVID-19 a week ago.

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