Health minister Keshab Mahanta in Nagaon seen with Nagaon MLA Rupak Sharma and DC Kavitha V Padmanabhan
GUWAHATI: Assam health minister Keshab Mahanta on Saturday said home isolation will not be allowed in tea garden areas, where a significant number of labourers are testing Covid-positive, as they live in congested homes and pose a serious threat to their family members.
“In case of tea gardens, we have taken a tough stance on isolation of the positive patients. No one will be allowed to avail home isolation in the tea gardens,” Mahanta told the media on Saturday.
Mahanta said Covid Care Centres (CCCs) will accommodate the Covid-infected workforce of the tea gardens who do not need hospitalization. “They will also get free-of-cost food and a medicine pack from the government on arrival at CCCs,” the minister added.
Even as the positivity rate in the state remains below 10% in the last few days, over 70 deaths are being reported everyday since Monday, which remains a major worry for the health officials. Even the daily number of cases in Kamrup (Metropolitan) district, under which the Guwahati city falls, has also come down to some extent. But there has been no respite from Covid-related casualties and health experts has been blaming delayed hospitalization from home isolation as the main reason.
Mahanta said the government is shifting its focus to the CCCs, even outside the tea gardens. “Not only in tea gardens, but outside too, CCCs will be activated in the districts. Our target is to keep every positive patient under the observation of the doctors through Asha workers and by other means,” he added.
The state government has already ordered mandatory institutional quarantine of people above 50 years infected with Covid.
TOI contacted several senior health officials to know the estimated figure of the Covid positive patients in the 10 lakh strong workforce in Assam but they could not furnish the data. The North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) cautioned that if all the positive cases are not shifted to CCCs inside or outside the tea gardens, there is threat of community spread.
“Last year, there were few isolated Covid-positive cases in the tea gardens of Assam. But this year, the situation is alarming. Containment zone has been declared in several tea gardens in Dibrugarh and Golaghat districts. This was beyond imagination during the first wave,” said Neta adviser Bidyananda Barkakoty.
In about seven tea gardens of Dibrugarh, nearly 500 cases were detected recently and the health authorities started vaccination there. Assam has 803 registered tea gardens out of which Dibrugarh district has 177 tea gardens, followed by Tinsukia (122), Jorhat (88), Sivasagar (85) and Golaghat (74).
However, a large number of young garden workers are not tech savvy enough to register through Co-WIN. “A huge number of tea garden workers are not familiar with the online registration process which is mandatory of vaccinating the 18+. We appeal to the government to find an offline alternative to vaccinate such a huge workforce,” Barkakoty added.