Ward-wise total lockdown will be imposed in Guwahati as the situation in the city has turned "alarming" with 144 persons without travel history testing positive for COVID-19 here in the last two days, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday.
The Kamrup (Metro) district administration, under which Guwahati falls, has been directed to take a decision to impose ward-wise total lockdown, whenever necessary, in the city apart from declaring containment zones in areas where COVID-19 cases have been reported, Sarma told reporters.
The lockdown can initially be imposed for seven days and if necessary, extended for another seven days, he said.
"The situation in Guwahati is alarming and our focus now is to control COVID-19 in the city so that it does not spread to the community level in other districts," he said.
As many as 181 cases were detected in the city in the last two days and out of these, 37 patients had travel history while the remaining 144 died not travel anywhere recently, the minister said.
Besides, 114 cases were reported from the 12 screening centres in the city where people had gone voluntarily to get their samples tested, he said.
"If this spike continues, we will get 200 to 300 cases daily from Guwahati alone. At present, we are getting this number from across the state," Sarma said.
Assam has so far reported 5,586 COVID-19 cases, of which 2,053 are active while 3,521 persons have recovered, nine have died of the disease and three have migrated out of the state.
"Cases in Guwahati will continue to increase. It will take at least one month to flatten the curve," he said.
COVID-19 cases have been reported from across the city but one common factor among the patients is their connection with the city's commercial hub Fancy Bazaar, the state health minister said.
Besides the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) and the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital (MMCH), 31 screening centres will be set up in the city where people can give their samples for COVID-19 tests from Wednesday, he said.
These screening centres will gradually be converted into makeshift hospitals, Sarma said.
The last of the Shramik Special trains are scheduled to arrive in the city by June 23 and "we expect the pressure on quarantine facilities to come down by the first week of July", he said.
"We, therefore, plan to convert the institutional quarantine centres in Guwahati into COVID-19 hospitals where asymptomatic patients will be treated," the minister said.
He appealed to the people to cooperate by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing "so that Guwahati does not become like Mumbai, Delhi or other places with high positive cases in the next seven or 10 days". "If people cooperate, we can contain the spread of COVID-19," Sarma said.
Assam recorded its highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases on Sunday with 331 new infections but "there is no need to panic on that account as sample testing has increased", Sarma said.
The number of samples tested so far is likely to cross the three lakh-mark on Monday, with one lakh samples tested in nine days since June 13, he said, adding that the rate of testing per million population in the state was 8,829.
The minister said that so far, 2,43,414 people have entered Assam by road, trains and air and "all have been tested and quarantined".