Misfortunes never come alone, Assam has found out through a series of viral and pest attacks.
By 6 p.m. on Saturday, the State’s COVID-19 positive count touched 239 with the addition of 70 infected persons to Friday’s figure. Officials attributed the highest single-day spike to returnees mostly from western and southern States.
Around the same time, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said two districts – Barpeta and Lakhimpur – have been affected by flood while the National Health Mission (NHM) updated the number of people under treatment for more familiar viral diseases caused by mosquito bites.
“Districts from different parts of Assam have so far reported 14 cases of dengue and 79 cases of acute encephalitis syndrome. There have been three cases of Japanese encephalitis with two having been discharged while one woman is stable but with multiple infections,” NHM State director Lakshmanan S. told The Hindu.
“We are facing innumerable challenges with floods starting and the COVID-19 cases spiking,” he said.
The State government launched the Assam Community Surveillance programme on May 7 to screen people for diseases associated with the pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons. The programme was initially planned for all but five of the State’s 33 districts where COVID-19 cases had not been reported.
“This drive has been affected with almost all districts now reporting COVID-19 cases after the arrival of migrant workers, students and others from elsewhere in the country,” a senior Health Department officer said, declining to be quoted.
Two rivers rising
An ASDMA official said the heavy rainfall in the northern parts of the State had seen two rivers – Jia-Bharali and Puthimari – flowing above the danger mark.
“The damage from this year’s first wave of flood is minimal now with 2,980 people across three villages having been affected. But the challenge is of adhering to COVID-19 protocols while dealing with the flood-affected people who might have to be evacuated to relief camps soon,” she said.
A major worry for the Animal Husbandry department is preventing African swine fever (ASF) from getting to domestic pigs in flood-prone areas. ASF has so far claimed more than 17,000 pigs across 10 districts, including Lakhimpur where the flood has affected 105 hectares of cropland while a bridge collapsed and river embankment breached.
Agriculture and Veterinary Minister Atul Bora said the year had been tough for villagers, some of whom grappled with fall armyworm attack while a section of more than 7 lakh pig farmers lost their source of income because of ASF.
No home quarantine
Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday talked tough, asserting that nobody arriving from outside the State would be allowed to go for home quarantine without undergoing seven days of institutional quarantine. “It is advisable to stay where they are. We have transferred ₹2,000 each to many of the stranded people and will provide more financial assistance,” he said.
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