Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said the coronavirus was now “in the community” amid the rising number of Covid-19 cases, NDTV reported.

Till Sunday night, Assam had recorded 11,736 cases, of which 4,286 people were still undergoing treatment. As many as 735 cases were reported in the past 24 hours, with Guwahati recording the maximum of 552 infections. In the last 10 days, Guwahati has reported more than 3,000 cases and the state more than 5,500.

“We have formally entered the pandemic stage in Guwahati with these cases,” Sarma said at a press conference, according to PTI. “Earlier, most of the cases were those with travel history who were quarantined, so the pandemic was in the states from where they had come but now it is here.”

“Now it is in the community,” he added, according to NDTV.

Assam has so far tested 4,59,143 samples for Covid-19. “I reiterate to all to voluntarily give your swabs if you feel you have even the mildest of symptoms for COVID-19,” Sarma said.

Guwahati has been under a “total lockdown” since June 29 to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Minimal relaxations are expected for four days from Monday. “Hopefully people will be more careful when they come out to buy the essential commodities, so that the situation does not worsen further,” the minister said. “We will analyse the situation and take a decision accordingly on whether to extend the lockdown or strike a balance to maintain both the economy and health of the people.”

Sarma also said that the health department has begun rapid antigen tests along with the RT-PCR tests, which take three to four days. He added that officials expect the numbers to rise at alarming rates at least till Tuesday.

“We are hopeful that fewer positive cases will start coming from July 8-9,” Sarma said. “The current figures consist of the antigen results and the results of the tests taken on or before lockdown.”

The minister also ruled out home isolation of people with mild symptoms. “We will allow home isolation to those who can get a written consent from their residential societies that the neighbours are supportive about it,” he said. “In Guwahati, home isolation might not work... government is not in a position to arrange emergency medical care at home.”

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