Specially abled youths (Divyangs) and journalists below 45 got their first jabs on the first day. Though the ceremonious beginning was limited to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) and Guwahati Press Club here, state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the drive to vaccinate the 18+ category would be in full swing from May 7.
Vaccine shortage compelled the state government to delay the vaccination of the 18-44age group accounting for more than one crore people in the state. As per the figure furnished by the state immunization office here, Assam has an estimated 1.08 crore (1,08,83,660) people between 18-44 years of age who are eligible for the shots. This figure, however, excludes lactating mothers and pregnant women.
Sarma, who visited both the vaccination centres, told media persons at the GMCH, “Last night, we received 1.5 lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech. With this stock in hand, the government has started the drive by vaccinating journalists and their family members at the Guwahati Press Club, and the Divyangs at GMCH. From May 7, more vaccination centres would open for the 18+ category, and those registered in the portals will start getting the dates for the jab.”
While admitting that due to a shortfall of vaccine doses, the drive may not gain pace immediately, Sarma said the vaccination centres for 18+ are expected to be expanded by the end of this month. “By the end of May more vaccines will come,” he added.
As the increasing number of Covid-related deaths has become a matter of concern in Assam over the past week, Sarma cautioned that delay in hospitalizations contributed to the rise of the death toll. “After analyzing the Covid deaths, we found that many patients did not take advice from doctors immediately after oxygen levels started falling. Such cases were brought to hospital late and could not be saved,” he added.
Sarma, along with the general manager of NF Railway, Anshul Gupta also inspected the Guwahati Railway Station to assess the preparedness of the Covid Care Coaches.
“The Assam government has urged the NF Railway to prepare 150 Covid Care Coaches at various locations in the state, which will be placed at identified stations as and when required by the authorities. Recently, 10 Covid Care Coaches have been placed at Dimapur Railway Station in Nagaland and handed over to the state government for admitting Covid patients,” said Subhanan Chanda, chief public relations officer at the NF Railway.
In Guwahati, where the Covid situation has been worrisome, the Kamrup (Metropolitan) district administration on Wednesday declared the Guwahati Municipal Corporation wards- 8, 16, 28 as containment zones with effect from 2 pm on Thursday (May 6).
There has been no respite from the surging number of cases in the state, where the positivity rate stood at 9.27% on Wednesday after 52,074 tests were conducted. A total of 4,826 new cases were detected in Assam on the same day. The number of active cases has also gone up to 29,915 from 28,060 recorded on Tuesday. The highest 1,383 new cases were detected in Kamrup (Metropolitan) district, followed by Dibrugarh (380), Kamrup (370) and Barpeta (209).