With the COVID-19 situation slowly coming under control, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday issued relaxations for those traveling both to and from the state.
Mr. Sarma said the relaxations in the new standard operating procedure (SOP) will be applicable for all air, train, and road passengers.
The order issued by principal secretary to the health department Samir K Sinha, after Mr. Sarma’s announcement, said any person traveling to Assam with RT-PCR test from their point of origin within a period of 72 hours and tested COVID-19 negative will not have to get tested on arrival.
“Earlier, we had withdrawn the mandatory institutional isolation of every traveler on returning from outside and now, we have also exempted testing of those who have already tested themselves from their point of origin,” Mr. Sarma said.
He said diplomats or those from international multilateral organizations such as UNICEF, World Bank or WHO or those under covert operations of central investigative agencies whose identity hiding is prerogative with their reason of the visit, will not have to test themselves on arrival.
For those going outside the state, Mr. Sarma said, “If they return within 24 hours, they will not have to test themselves. We thought of keeping that period a little longer, but Delhi still is reporting lots of new infections.”
About the SOP, Mr. Sarma said, “To put swabs inside children’s sensitive nose is irritating. So in the case of children below 10 years, if their parents wish, they will not be tested. The prerogative to test lies with the parents who, of course, will have to test themselves.”
The relaxations came after an optimistic Mr. Sarma said the COVID-19 parameters have started showing signs of receding.
“We thought there will be a surge in cases after Durga Puja, but no such thing happened in five days after. Instead, active cases came down from 36,000 in September to 10,421 currently. Recovery rate is 95 percent, second-highest after Tamil Nadu,” Mr. Sarma said.
The only worrisome parameter, Mr. Sarma said, is the death rate that remained unchanged with 926 dying due to “late reporting of the infection”.
Over two lakh people in Assam got infected, of which over 1.94 lakh have recovered.