The Assam government has decided to exempt foreign dignitaries and top officials from COVID-19 tests and quarantine upon their arrival in the state on official visits, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday. The administration has also given some relaxations to the commoners, exempting people testing negative for the infection in RT-PCR tests conducted within 72 hours before their arrival in Assam and locals returning within 24 hours of leaving the state from tests and quarantine, Sarma told reporters.
However, the exemption for those testing negative for COVID-19 in RT-PCR tests will be subject to the production of satisfactory documents and verification of test results on the ICMR portal, he said. Children below 10 years of age arriving in Assam are also exempted from undergoing mandatory COVID-19 tests if they don't exhibit any coronavirus symptom, he said, adding parents may, however, voluntarily get their wards tested for the infection.
The exemption from tests and quarantine has been extended to foreign dignitaries and diplomats of all embassies and diplomatic missions, officials of multilateral funding agencies like World Bank and Asian Development Bank, besides those from investigating, intelligence and security agencies and Income Tax Department on official visits to Assam, the minister said. He thanked the people of the state for celebrating Durga Puja with the utmost caution, because of which "cases are declining and the recovery rate is improving" in the post-festival COVID-19 situation.
The daily positivity rate is less than two per cent and the number of active cases, which had risen to 36,000 in September-end, has come down to 10,000, Sarma said. The recovery rate of over 95 per cent is very encouraging and the state is second only to Tamil Nadu in this regard but the daily deaths are a matter of concern, he said.
"We could have achieved zero deaths but many patients came for treatment when the situation turned critical and it was difficult to save them," the minister added.