Assam talks tough against ‘hiding’ Markaz visitors

From Our Special Correspondent

GUWAHATI: Assam Health and Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has warned of strict action against Markaz visitors from the state who are yet to intimate the authorities about their participation in the religious congregation.
“We have been very patient so far and we still earnestly appeal to them to come out and inform us. However, if the same does not happen by tomorrow (Sunday), then the health department would be compelled to hand over the task of tracing those still who are hiding to the police department,” Sarma told reporters here on Saturday afternoon.
Till date, Assam has registered 26 COVID-19 positive cases, of which 25 had attended the Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi last month.
The minister appealed to the Markaz authorities to provide the actual list of attendees from Assam.
“It is sad to see that things are taking a dramatic turn and this is an evolving story. Every day, we are getting news that a lot of people from the state had attended the Tablighi Jamaat. Now, from South Salmara to Upper Assam to Barak Valley, the virus has spread across the state. Besides, these are only attendees and their families are yet to be contacted,” Himanta said.
He further said that adequate arrangements were being made for those being treated and quarantined.
“Quality food is being served. Those being quarantined are given a phone to connect with their families while they also have access to video calls from specialists for any advice. So, I once again appeal to those still in hiding to come out and cooperate with us,” Sarma said.
As many as 1,529 swab samples have been tested till date across five ICMR-accredited labs of Assam.
“Altogether, 1,308 samples have been declared negative, the results of 196 samples are awaited while 25 samples have tested positive,” he said.
“As many as 812 samples of Markaz visitors have been tested and 24 were found positive, while the results of 152 samples tested are awaited. The 636 persons, who have been found negative, are under quarantine and re-tests would be done after the 14-day incubation period,” Sarma said.
However, in a late-night tweet on Saturday, Sarma confirmed one more case from the state which was also linked to Markaz congregation, taking the number of cases in the state to 26.
Informing reporters about Manish Tibrewal, the sole COVID-19-infected person from Kamrup Metro district, the health minister said, “He has been admitted to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital last (Friday) night and according to hospital authorities, his condition stable right know. We have not been able to confirm the source of his infection but his case is certainly not connected with the religious congregation.”
Significantly, 111 persons, whom Tibrewal had come in contact with after coming back to Guwahati from New Delhi on March 1, have been traced.
“We have identified 111 contacts of Manish Tibrewal and the samples have been collected. These persons have been kept at designated quarantine centres in Guwahati and Nagaon,” Sarma said.
Meanwhile the Kamrup Metro district administration has, through an order on Saturday, sealed the apartment, Spanish Garden, where Tibrewal resides, prohibiting unauthorised entry and exit, movement of vehicles to and from the apartment in the interest of maintenance of social distancing and public hygiene.
The health minister further expressed his gratitude to the family of Tibrewal, who had volunteered to inform about his condition and the 111 persons whom he had come in contact with over the past month.
“As of now, we suspect that he might have met some human carrier of the virus. But that will be clear once we get the results of the sample tests conducted on the 111 contact persons,” Sarma added.

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