The Assam government would allow non-symptomatic COVID-19 positive patients to go for home quarantine only if they sign an undertaking agreeing to certain conditions, Health and Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.
Such patients have to ensure that their neighbours and housing societies have no objection to their home quarantine, there are no elderly persons in the family and they have a private physician to check their health condition every three hours, he said.
Besides, they need to have a pulse oximeter at home and should be able to reach in personal vehicle to a hospital, in case their condition deteriorates, Sarma told a press conference.
“The health department does not prefer home quarantine as there is a risk of transmitting the disease to others in the house, particularly elderly persons and children. We also want to ensure that all COVID-19 patients will be available for timely treatment”, he said.
The social set-up in Assam is such that usually “three generations live together in a house and if the patient is not isolated, there are chances that the patient may infect 10 others”, he said.
“There are, however, constant requests from patients for home quarantine and though they have the freedom of choice but we cannot allow them to infect others. We can allow it only if they fulfill these conditions”, he added.
Flight passengers coming to Guwahati will now be subjected to the COVID-19 Antigen test at the airport and those testing negative will be allowed to go for home quarantine for 14 days, the minister said.
“It has also come to our notice that private hospitals are not admitting patients without COVID test, though we had asked them to set up testing facilities and except for a few, most have not done so resulting in an increase in the morbidity and mortality rate”, he said.
Therefore, in the case of critical patients needing immediate hospitalisation “we have decided that their results will be processed within 24 hours, provided the samples are received prior to 12 noon each day”, Sarma said.
The health department will also have a dedicated COVID care center for pregnant women, and children below the age of 12 and a Geriatric COVID Centre for senior citizens above the age of 65 where round the clock doctors and nurses will be available, he said.
He said that all deaths where COVID-19 is the underlying cause will be certified by a Death Audit Board according to the guidelines of the Indian Council Medical Research (ICMR).
Following the increase in the number of deaths, an aggressive line of treatment with steroids and plasma therapy has been initiated at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital with patients showing signs of improvement, Sarma said.
The situation in Guwahati city, which has reported 6,221 positive cases till date, was still critical and “COVID-19 is still very active but we have been able to bring down the positivity rate to 21 per cent from the 30 per cent when the lockdown was imposed”, he said.
“We have been able to test one-tenth of the city’s population which is remarkable both for the city and the state”, the minister added.
The state has reported 15,536 cases of infections including 35 deaths till Sunday according to the ministry of health data.