Assam on Saturday went on a sanitising and quarantining overdrive along the route taken by a U.S. tourist during his tour of the State before leaving for Bhutan where he tested positive for COVID-19 on March 5.
The tourist had begun his India tour on February 21 and had gone on a seven-day cruise on the Brahmaputra River three days later. He stayed at a five-star hotel in Guwahati and a resort in eastern Assam’s Jorhat town beyond the Kaziranga National Park.
An entire floor of the hotel where the U.S. couple had stayed was vacated and sanitised while health officials collected a list of all the employees who served the duo for screening. “We are trying to track everyone they came in contact with from and back to the airport and assist the health teams in ensuring people cooperate,” Addl. DGP Harmeet Singh said.
A health team also screened the crew and the passengers of the cruise ship the couple and two others had booked. The ship, which had been sailing with 22 foreign tourists and 35 crew members on board, was made to stop at Neamatighat in Jorhat district for screening.
Employees and guests of the Jorhat resort had also been screened.
Officials in Majuli, an island-like formation in the Brahmaputra, have launched an exercise to identify the people the U.S. couple had met. The pair had visited a satra (Vaishnav monastery) in Majuli.
The authorities in northern Assam’s Tezpur have quarantined an Italian tourist who checked into a hotel there on Friday. The tourist, who arrived in India more than a month ago, has been isolated in his hotel room.
Kaziranga Utsav postponed indefinitely
A festival each in Assam and Meghalaya have become the casualty of the COVID-19 scare. The authorities of the Kaziranga National Park have postponed the Kaziranga Utsav, scheduled from March 12-15, indefinitely as many foreign tourists were expected to attend.
The Meghalaya government too scaled down the Meghalaya Age Festival scheduled from March 7-15 at Thadlaskein in West Jaintia Hills district. “In view of the public advisory issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, we have made it a small-scale event for a limited number of invitees,” Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma said.
The Assam government has advised the people not to panic and that measures are being taken to keep the virus at bay.
“There hasn’t been a single positive case among the 112 people we have kept under surveillance so far. We are conducting health checks at all airports and have asked various airlines to report to us if any passenger arrives with fever,” Assam’s junior Health Minister Pijush Hazarika said.
CISF personnel under observation
The Guwahati airport authorities have put five Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel under observation after the news of the U.S. tourist was conveyed from Bhutan, airport’s Director Ramesh Kumar said.
The tourist and his partner had boarded a Bhutan airline flight from the Lokapriya Gopinath Bardoloi International Airport to Bhutan’s Paro International Airport on March 2. Eight of the 10 passengers on board were Indians.
“We have identified five CISF personnel who may have come in contact with the infected tourist. They are being kept under observation,” Mr. Kumar said. He said screening at the airport is only for passengers on arrival, not on departure.
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