COVID-19 second wave extremely severe in Assam, CM seeks funds from people

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Guwahati, May 18 (PTI) Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday said the impact of the second wave of COVID- 19 has been 'extremely severe' in the northeastern state for which medical infrastructure needs to be strengthened.

Through his social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, Sarma appealed to the public to contribute generously to the Chief Ministers Relief Fund or the Assam Arogya Nidhi account to support the governments efforts in handling the pandemic.

'The impact of the second wave of COVID-19 has been extremely severe in Assam. Against this backdrop, there is a need to further strengthen the medical infrastructure in the state,' a statement issued by the Office of the Chief Minister said.

The pandemic has been the 'greatest health challenge' and it has caused untold suffering to humanity with many precious lives being lost, Sarma said.

'The Assam Government has taken a series of steps to deal with this unprecedented challenge. We have worked to improve our medical infrastructure, taken steps to create more ICU beds and COVID-19 Care Centres. We have also upped our oxygen generation and storage.

'Your donations would be utilised only for COVID-19 prevention. ... The list of donors will be released by the government from time to time and all donations would be exempted from income tax,' he added.

During the first wave of COVID-19 last year, Sarma, who was the health minister then, had made similar appeals to the people.

Though the amount contributed to the Chief Ministers Relief Fund was not made public, Sarma had informed the state Assembly in September that Rs 116.1 crore had been received from 53,534 persons in the Assam Arogya Nidhi account.

On April 21, Sarma had announced that Assam would provide vaccines to people of the 18-44 age group free of cost, and donations received last year in Assam Arogya Nidhi would be utilised for this purpose.

Assam reported a record 92 deaths due to COVID-19 on Monday, while the number of COVID-19 cases registered an all- time high of 6,394 persons, pushing the total number of infections to 3,35,023. PTI TR MM MM