Assam is seeing a huge spike in COVID-19 cases, state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Sunday, sounding an alert for the people of Guwahati which has reported 2,700 cases in the past 10 days. The current coronavirus tally in Assam, which had registered its first case 96 days ago on March 31, stands at 11,001.
"Now it is in the community. With this, Guwahati has formally entered into the pandemic situation now and it is becoming bigger and bigger," Mr Sarma said at a news conference in the city. The health department has started antigen tests for faster results within an hour along with RT-PCR tests that take 3-4 days, he said.
Guwahati recorded its highest spike of 777 cases on Sunday - about 30 per cent of all the tests conducted. Across the state, over 1,200 cases were reported. A total of 4,945 cases were detected in the state in the last 10 days.
The city is already under a "strict" 14-day lockdown since June 29 which will see "minimum relaxation" for four days from Monday, during which, only standalone grocery shops across the city will be allowed to open from 11 am to 4 pm, an official order added.
Mr Sarma said the numbers will continue to spike at the current alarming rate till at least Tuesday. "We are hopeful that fewer positive cases will start coming from July 8-9. The current figures consist of the antigen results and the results of the tests taken on or before lockdown," Mr Sarma said.
On the brighter side, across the state, Assam has maintained a 13-day doubling rate for over 10 days in the state, official sources said.
But for Guwahati, with a population of over 22 lakh, the outlook is worrying.
On Wednesday, Mr Sarma had said that the city and its outskirts have about 1,538 COVID-19 dedicated hospital beds of which 987 are already occupied. He said the health department is aiming to raise the number to 3,000 by the end of this week. However, since then, 1,872 more cases have been detected, putting the state government in a fix.
What is more worrying is the concentration of cases - 1,414 cases per million in Guwahati, official sources said. Experts believe that the denser the number of cases is, the higher are the chances of community transmission.
Mr Sarma has also ruled out "home isolation" as he feels it would not work in Guwahati.
"We will allow home isolation to those who can get a written consent from their residential societies that the neighbours are supportive about it. In Guwahati, home isolation might not work... government is not in a position to arrange emergency medical care at home," the minister added.