Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said the positivity rate of COVID 19 stands at 14% in Sonitpur district, which is the highest in the state.

Sarma while addressing a press conference at the Sonitpur DC office here on Sunday urged the people of the district to come forward for COVID19 tests to combat the pandemic.

He said in the last three days, Dibrugarh and Sonitpur districts have recorded the highest COVID19 positivity rates at 10% and 14% respectively.

Urging the Sonitpur district administration to take necessary steps to contain COVID19, Sarma said if the spread of the disease cannot be controlled in Dhekiajuli and Tezpur towns, it would spread to the tea garden and rural areas which will worsen the situation.

“However, if the district administration can do 50/60% of tests by the month of August, there will be a control over the situation in the district,” Sarma said.

He also visited Tezpur Medical College Hospital on Sunday and inspected the functioning of the plasma bank.

The health minister announced that the ICU facility in the hospital would be increased to 35 so that more patients could be offered the facility.

He said observing the situation, more COVID care centres would be set up in the district.

Meanwhile, when asked whether lockdown would be imposed in Sonitpur, Sarma said it would depend on the positivity rate and as and when necessary, the deputy commissioner would request the government for the same and the decision would be taken accordingly.

“However, if COVID 19 protocols are not followed properly there is no meaning of imposing lockdown,” he maintained.

Sarma also revealed that for reopening of the schools, the quarantine centre/ isolation centers and swab collection centres set up in various schools in Sonitpur district would be removed soon.

Earlier, Sarma reviewed the current COVID19 scenario in Sonitpur district in a meeting held with the district administration and health department officials at the conference hall of the deputy commissioner’s office here in Tezpur.

The meeting was attended by Tezpur MP Pallab Lochan Das, Tezpur MLA Brindabon Goswami, Sootea MLA Padma Hazarika, Borsola MLA Ganesh Limboo and deputy commissioner Manvendra Pratap Singh.

The meeting was also attended by the joint director of health services, Dr. J Ahmed and other senior district administration and health department officials.

Deputy commissioner Singh gave a presentation on the COVID19 preparedness in Sonitpur district.

He also gave a detailed overview of the facilities available in the dedicated COVID hospital, various COVID health centres and COVID Care Centres operational in the district, testing centres and case management.

Expressing concern at the high number of cases detected in Tezpur and Dhekiajuli, health

minister Sarma stressed on the need to break the chain in these towns so that the disease cannot spread to the rural areas of the district.

Minister Sarma called for effective case management of all positive cases so that the load in the hospitals can be eased.

He directed the deputy commissioner to allow home isolation to persons willing to opt for it while strictly abiding by the guidelines laid down by the government.

The minister also directed the health department officials to mandatorily carry out tests in all houses and business establishments, especially in Tezpur and Dhekiajuli towns.

He sought cooperation of all business establishments, traders associations and citizens’ bodies so that the spread of the disease can be contained.

He asked the officials to carry out at least 2,000 tests per day so as to get a clearer picture of the status of local transmission of COVID19 in Tezpur and Dhekiajuli.

Sarma asked the officials to ensure good quality of food to COVID19 patients admitted in various government facilities and to take special care of patients having comorbidities.

He laid special stress on creating awareness about the importance of plasma donation by COVID19 recovered patients in order to treat critical COVID19 patients.

The minister also discussed several other issues related to development of health infrastructure in the district along with improving manpower of health department to deal effectively with the current scenario.

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