The Assam government on Friday announced that air passengers have to mandatorily take the RT-PCR, or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, test for the coronavirus, in addition to the rapid antigen tests, Hindustan Times reported. State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said this was being done to reduce quarantine period.
Sarma introduced “tatkal” or quick RT-PCR test results within 24 hours and several other guidelines for travel amid the coronavirus crisis. “At present we conduct a rapid antigen test of air passengers at the airport on their arrival and if found negative, ask them to spend 10 days in home quarantine,” Sarma told reporters in Guwahati. From now, we will conduct both RAT and RT-PCR tests of all passengers on arrival.”
He said passengers can get RT-PCR test results within 24 hours if they pay Rs 2,200, adding that if it is negative then they need undergo home quarantine. The test results for those who do not wish to pay the amount will be given in five days and during this time they have to be under home isolation, Sarma said.
The government has also launched an app and website – visitassam.org – where passengers can fill forms for coronavirus tests before their arrival and reduce the time spent at airport.
“From now on, persons who have been cured of Covid-19 won’t have to take tests or stay in quarantine on arrival at the airport, provided they are asymptomatic,” the health minister said. “However, they need to produce their discharge certificate from the hospital or Covid-19 negative report given by the Indian Council of Medical Research.”
Sarma said the coronavirus situation in the state continues to be grim. “We are recording nearly 2400 new cases daily in September,” he said. “These days we are witnessing more severe cases among patients and the number of deaths has also increased.”
He added that efforts to increase capacity of intensive care units in hospitals is underway. “We are conducting a mass awareness drive on Covid-19 with 30,000 health workers going house to house and urging people to stay safe and get tested if any symptoms are seen,” Sarma said. “We are planning to ramp up tests and conduct 1 lakh tests daily on September 28, 29 and 30.”
Assam has recorded total 1,65,582 cases so far and the toll stood at 608. As many as 1,35,141 people have recovered from the infection.