Despite the efforts of the Assam government to tackle COVID-19 spread in the tea gardens of the state, some 1,800 positive cases have been reported from tea gardens in the second wave of the pandemic. 12 patients from tea garden areas have died of Covid.
Till May 19, a total of 1,851 have been tested positive in 229 tea gardens of Assam, government data shows. So far 214 tea estates have opened Covid care centres on the government's instructions. But they have limited facilities.
"Last year, tea gardens were not much affected by Covid, but this time we are seeing a spread of the virus in the tea gardens. My department and the Health Department are closely monitoring every tea garden," Assam Labour and Welfare of Tea Tribes Minister Sanjoy Kishan told NDTV.
"Wherever we are getting positive cases, we are not allowing home isolation in tea gardens as the facilities could be inadequate. So we have Covid care centres. And since most gardens are open and work is continuing, we might have to shut down more tea gardens to break the chain of transmission," Mr Kishan said.
There are 850 major tea gardens in Assam. Their staff accounts for 18 per cent of Assam's population. The gardens that account for 20 positive cases will be declared as containment zones. The state government said if the spread of the virus continues, they will have to close several tea gardens.
"I feel the situation might actually turn serious in future and so the government is on alert. A separate safety SOP has been issued for tea garden areas," said Assam BJP MP Kamakhya Prasad Tassa.