The Assam government will implement a three-tier quarantine system to contain the spread of COVID-19 when passengers from outside reach the state by trains and by road, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Tuesday.
Train services from Delhi to Dibrugarh in Assam began on Tuesday and 842 passengers are scheduled to reach the state after stopping at several stations in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, he said.
Around 15 lakh people are expected to enter the state in the next few months in a phased manner, Sarma said.
The first level of the quarantine system will be at the hospitals where all symptomatic patients will be treated. The second level will be at district headquarters and the third at the constituency level, he told a press conference here.
Symptomatic patients will be taken straight to the hospitals, while asymptomatic people will also have to undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine at facilities fixed by the district authorities like schools, colleges and anganwadis.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will also write to all legislators irrespective of party affiliations to make quarantine provisions for those from their constituency who are returning from outside the state.
Referring to the train, Sarma said in Assam it will stop at Kokrajhar, Guwahati, Lumding and Mariani stations.
There will be passengers from Arunachal Pradesh who will be taken from Dibrugarh by buses provided by that state, he said.
"Initially it was planned that the train services will be staggered. But last night, we were informed that trains from Delhi to Dibrugarh will run for a week continously as there was pressure from host states to ensure the return of people to their home states," he said.
The minister said that there was also demand for train services from Bengaluru, Chennai, Kerala, Maharashtra and Gujarat to bring back people.
The state government has applied to the Railways for Shramik Kalyan trains - one each from Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and Gujarat.
"This will be entirely free for the passengers. Railways will bear 85 per cent of the fare and the state government the remaining 15 per cent", Sarma said.
Already 3,597 people have entered the state by road, including 3,255 by the Srirampur check gate and 342 by the Chagalia gate along the Assam-West Bengal border, he said.
These people were taken to the five screening centres at Kokrajhar, Guwahati, Jorhat, Tezpur and Silchar.
"This is a major challenge for us and the next 15 days to one month is very crucial for us in our fight against corona", Sarma said.
Assam has tested more than 20,000 people among whom 64 tested positive and 22 of them active cases. An ambulance driver who drove from Mumbai to Jorhat and was allowed to leave as he was asymptomatic has been hospitalised in Bihar, while two persons have died and 39 of them have been discharged from hospital.
Of the two persons who tested positive on Monday in Guwahati, one is a patient in Guwahati Medical College Hospital and the other is a 50-year old worker at a potato godown, Sarma said.