GUWAHATI: Assam Minister for Health and Family Welfare Himanta Biswa Sarma Tuesday claimed that there is constant decline in the positive rate of the contagion and with it the flattening of the COVID-19 graph may have started in the state.
The positivity rate had reached a high of nine per cent in September but on October 4 it was 5.8 per cent and since then there has been a constant decline so much so that on Monday it reached a low of 1.8 per cent, Sarma told newsmen here.
The absolute number of cases too have come down and the recovery rate has surged past 85 per cent, he said.
"These are important developments during the last 15 days and we can claim that the flattening of the COVID graph has started. If for a few more days we continue to remain vigilant and careful and this trend continues, then we are sure to win our fight against the virus," Sarma said.
The state has conducted more than 40 lakh tests so far.
In Guwahati city alone, six lakh people have been tested for the disease out of its population of ten lakh.
"This is indeed a high performance for a state like Assam. Our standard goal for testing is 30,000 cases per day and we will have to continue with this even if there is flattening of cases", Sarma said.
The state had conducted more than one lakh tests daily for three days since September 27.
"This probably has a bearing in the decline of the positivity rate and so we are again conducting more than one lakh tests daily for three days since yesterday," he said.
The Death Audit Board has certified 826 deaths due to COVID-19 while more than one thousand people have died due to post-COVID and other related reasons in hospitals, taking the total deaths to more than 1800, Sarma said.
"The death rate is still less than one per cent which we consider as modest," he said.
Assam has so far reported 195304 positive cases with 1,66,036 of them recovering from the disease.
A total 826 persons have died of the disease and there are 28439 active cases.
Three affected persons had migrated from the state.
A sero-survey conducted by an NGO recently found in its preliminary report that 20 to 22 per cent of the people have been infected.
Herd immunity is not possible in such a situation in the state yet, the minister said.
The coming Durga Puja celebrations may pose a challenge to the state.
"But we hope that if people follow the protocols strictly there should not be any post-Puja increase in cases," he said.
"We are not going to pose any hurdles in the way of holding Durga Puja in the state but certain restrictions will be imposed to ensure that social distancing and other COVID related protocols are maintained", Sarma added.
elaborating on the regulations, the puja committees must ensure that there are no closed pandals and are open on all four sides with separate entry and exits for the devotees.
It will be the responsibility of the puja committees to ensure that all devotees wear masks and sanitise their hands before entering the pandals and not more than 50 devotees are inside at a time.
All pandals will have to close by 10 p.m and no cultural functions or competitions will be held while restaurants will also have to close by 9 p.m.
The priests and volunteers must undergo COVID-19 swab tests on the fifth day of the ten-day festival and again on the tenth day after immersion, he said.
During the puja days, no pillion riding by two men will be allowed though women and children can be pillion riders.
The district administrations will ensure that only one puja committee can immerse its idols at a time and the immersion will be spread over two to three days.
"These days of being cautious can ensure the continuity of the present success we are now experiencing", the minister said.
He said there is a prediction that there may be a new wave during the winter.
"We have to be careful about it and if we continue with the tests and people are vigilant, it is not necessary that there will be a second wave".
Sarma said that the Centre has asked assam to be ready for the vaccination programmes from January to July next year.
Priority will be given to frontline health and care workers and those above the age of 60.