Assam: Health dept worry over infection spread in poll season | Guwahati News

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GUWAHATI: A year after lockdown, life is back on track in poll-bound Assam, with educational institutions, offices functioning smoothly like pre-Covid days. Even as the positivity rate continues to be less than one percent and daily cases have come down to less than 30, the election season has posed the biggest challenge before the health authorities as crowds are flouting the Covid protocol. Very few people in rallies are maintaining social distance or wearing masks.
“It has been informed by the health department that high alert is being maintained in poll-bound Assam, where non-stop contact tracing for positive cases continues,” a source privy to the meeting conducted by an Election Commission of India (ECI) team headed by CEC Sunil Arora in Tezpur on Monday, said. DCs and SPs of the districts which will go to the first phase polls on March 27, along with senior health officials, were present in the meeting.
As on Sunday, Assam recorded 2,17,976 Covid-19 positive cases, out of which 2,15,213 persons have recovered. The recovery percentage in Assam is as high as 98.73. On an average, 20-30 daily cases are being reported from Assam, with a test positivity rate about 0.20%.
“The total number of deaths due to Covid-19 in the state stood at 1,100 and the death rate is 0.50%, which is also one of the lowest in the country. However, the state has geared up with revamped medical facilities, logistics and manpower to tackle the virus, considering the ground reports this election season,” a senior health official told TOI.
He, however, expressed concern over the mammoth poll rallies that are being taken out by various political parties and the gathering reported from election campaigns even in the designated fields. A 6 ft distance has to be maintained between two people in political meetings as per the election guidelines in the state. But the norms have been flouted.
The deputy commissioner of a district, where the first phase elections are going to be held, said, “Once permission is given, it is the responsibility of the parties to follow the conditions. Campaigning is on at so many places at the same time and that’s why it’s difficult to monitor all the rallies. But it has become a concern.”
Another health official said that Covid testing capacity has been enhanced and so far 71,09,925 tests have been conducted. “The tests per million population in Assam is 2.07 lakhs against the all India average of 1.74 lakhs. Over 6.55 lakh doses of Covid vaccine have been administered as on March 21, with a total of 7,74,442 registered in the Co-WIN portal,” he added.
Considering the persistent threat of the virus, the state has more than 4,000 isolation beds with ICU and oxygen facilities. However, only about 46 isolation beds were occupied as on Monday.
Assam is undertaking vaccination among health care workers, front line workers and the population above 60 years and those above 45 years with co-morbidities. Also, the polling officials and administrative officials linked to the election are also being inoculated.
Vaccination has been safe in Assam, as all 85 reported adverse events following immunization were mild in nature.
A total of 12.79 lakh doses of Covishield and 2.76 lakh doses of Covaxin have been administered in the state, where more than 30,000 sessions have been held. Efforts are on to conduct 2,000 sessions per day to protect the community from fresh infections.

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