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Assam kick starts process to set up makeshift hospitals

Shillong Times 2020-03-26 19:19:44
The under-construction quarantine centre on the premises of Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Sarusajai, on Thursday. ST photo.

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700-bed quarantine centre at Sarusajai to be ready in a week: Himanta

GUWAHATI: The Assam government has started the process to set up makeshift hospitals to keep people coming from outside the state in isolation and treat patients who may test positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The construction of such a quarantine centre, which will have at least 700 beds, 200 toilets and other facilities, is under way on the premises of the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium at Sarusajai here on Thursday.

Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma visited the site and took stock of the preparedness and the facility.

“The quarantine centre will be ready in a week’s time. It will be able to house about 700 people at a time. Arrangements have also been made for providing accommodation to the medical staff to be deployed at the centre,” Sarma said.

The minister informed that the state government was making arrangements to ferry all the 700 people currently stranded at Srirampur and Boxirhat check gates on the Assam-Bengal border to the state on special buses soon.

“The Kokrajhar deputy commissioner has been asked to make arrangements for providing food and shelter there till they are brought here and kept in isolation for 14 days at the quarantine centre at Sarusajai,” Sarma said, while adding that till date, there were no positive cases for the virus in Assam.

The health minister said that if any member of a family tested positive bus does not have home quarantine arrangements, then he/she would be brought to the isolation centre at Sarusajai as well.

“Besides, there are people coming from outside who have not been allowed to stay in hotels here. Such people will also be accommodated at the isolation centre,” he added.

Apart from Sarusajai, the state government might set up a similar facility at Nehru Stadium if required.

The Assam Cricket Association (ACA), in a statement on Thursday, also offered the ACA Stadium and its premises at Barsapara here to the state government for establishing temporary hospital and quarantine centre in view of the emergent situation arising out of the coronavirus pandemic.

The association further assured that it would provide every possible support to the state government to fight against the virus outbreak during this critical juncture.

It may be mentioned that government has already decided to dedicate three hospitals in the state to exclusively treat coronavirus-affected people.

“We are in talks with Larsen and Toubro (L&T) as well for setting up temporary hospitals in the state which have a durability of four years. If such facilities are set up, then our MPs, both from ruling and Opposition, have committed to contribute from their funds,” the health minister said.

Training for MBBS students

The health minister further informed that a module for training 700 MBBS final year students on COVID-19 has been prepared and that the students would be trained on the virus in a bid to have an enhanced pool of doctors to treat COVID-19 patients in future.

“Apart from MBBS students, final year nursing students will also be trained in various aspects related to coronavirus. The idea is to augment the medical staff by about 300 to 400 in the first phase,” Sarma said.