Assam reports 3,137 COVID cases; state imposes new curbs on physical classes

GUWAHATI: Assam’s COVID-19 tally jumped to 2,40,670 as 3,137 more people tested positive for the virus while 15 new fatalities pushed the coronavirus death toll to 1,215 on Monday, according to the bulletin issued by the National Health Mission.

Of the new cases, Kamrup Metropolitan district reported 1,153 cases, Dibrugarh (268), Kamrup Rural district (255) and Darrang (127), it said.

The 15 new COVID-19 fatalities were reported from Kamrup Metropolitan (8), Dibrugarh (3), Barpeta (2) and one death each from Kamrup Rural and Goalpara districts, the bulletin said.

Assam currently has 17,764 active COVID-19 cases.

During the day 828 patients recovered from the disease, taking the total number of COVID-19 recoveries to 2,20,344, it said, adding that the recovery rate is 91.55 per cent.

The state has so far tested 83,47,310 samples for COVID-19, including 73,181 during the day.

The cumulative total beneficiaries who have been vaccinated in the state till date is 20,98,155 which include 3,18,032 health workers, 5,32,606 frontline workers and 12,47,517 above the age of 45.

Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said that Deputy Commissioners have been authorised to suspend physical classes up to standard 8 in districts where COVID-19 positive cases have crossed 100 on a particular day.

Physical classroom assembly of students of Class 6 to 8 in both private and public schools will be suspended in districts where cases cross 100 on a particular day, the minister said at a press conference here.

Online classes will, however, be made available, he added.

The state Education department had earlier issued a notification authorising Deputy Commissioners to suspend classes in primary schools till Class 5 where cases exceed 100 on a particular date.

The minister said that with cases in Kamrup Metro exceeding 1000, “I have advised the Deputy Commissioner to shut down all educational institutions including hostels for 15 days for now”.

Deputy Commissioner Biswajit Pegu has already issued the order shutting down all educational institutions in Kamrup Metro district where 1,153 cases were reported on Monday.

All other districts, where the numbers reach a threshold that require such measures, shall follow suit, Sarma said.

Meanwhile, the Cotton College State University on Monday postponed the higher secondary (HS) final (Practical) examinations for all subjects of Assam Higher Secondary Educational Council (AHSEC) until further notice.

In a notification issued on Monday, the examination department of the varsity said that the remaining examinations will be scheduled when the situation becomes normal and will be notified in due course.

The university has also suspended the ongoing undergraduate (UG) first semester examinations including BA Liberal Arts from Monday due to the rise of the COVID-19 cases.

The remaining examination will be scheduled when the situation becomes normal and will be notified in due course, the notification added.

Meanwhile, Assam Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary on Monday said that there is no shortage of oxygen in Assam, but still the state government has decided to stop supply of the life-saving gas to industries.

After interacting with representatives of oxygen plants of the state, Patowary also asked them to ramp up production and enhance the capacity to be future-ready for any emergency situation.

Several states of the country are facing a shortage of oxygen when COVID-19 cases are surging.

“There is no shortage of oxygen and the Assam Government as on today is in a comfortable position with the current daily requirement of oxygen,” he said in a statement.

Patowary stated that the entire oxygen production will go only to medical college hospitals and other medical establishments with the supply of the gas being discontinued to industries.

The minister directed the authorities of District Industries and Commerce Centres to coordinate with the manufacturers and to promptly address the issues that may arise.

He also directed the industry department to prepare a roadmap in collaboration with the oxygen manufacturers to manage any crisis situation.

The minister said that profit should not be the motive for oxygen manufacturers and asked them to render service to people.

He assured them full government support and the manufacturers agreed to extend all cooperation, the statement said.

At present there are six oxygen manufacturing units in Assam with an installed capacity of 61 MT daily along with ample storage capacity, it said.

In addition, the Assam Government has installed 10 oxygen separators in medical colleges and hospitals across the state and 10 more will start functioning within a month.

Following this, Assam will be self-sufficient in case of oxygen requirement in the health sector as per todays scenario, the statement added.

Patowary also asked the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited to ensure smooth power supply to oxygen manufacturing units for continuous production of the gas.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today tweeted: “Held a meeting regarding the #COVID19 situation with officials of Transport & Industries Dept along with Min Shri @cmpatowary. I have asked officials to ensure smooth transport of essential items, adherence to COVID guidelines and to conduct screening at state borders.”