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Assam bans unvaccinated people from public places amid sharp rise in Covid cases


Amid a sharp rise in Covid cases fueled by the Omicron variant, the government of Assam has issued an order barring unvaccinated people from entering public places except hospitals. The order follows the central government’s affidavit to the Supreme Court that Covid vaccination has not been made compulsory.

In accordance with the ordinance, which has been in effect since January 15, citizens must carry proof of vaccination when visiting public places and the owners of public or private establishments will be responsible for ensuring that only fully vaccinated people are allowed inside, otherwise criminal action would be taken.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday that people who do not wish to be vaccinated should stay at home. Although he reiterated that the vaccine is not compulsory, the chief minister said that the unvaccinated cannot go to offices or public places. Sarma reportedly said people might need to produce their vaccination certificates and that his government would not allow any anti-public activity.

According to the latest reports, the daily positivity rate in Assam climbed to 10.75% on Monday. The figure was 0.77% on January 1 and 7.87% on January 13. The state recorded 23,948 active Covid cases on Monday.

Assam National Health Mission (NHM) director Lakshmanan told the Indian Express that the state recorded 6,982 new positive Covid cases on Monday, compared to just 150 cases on January 1. Tinsukia, Cachar, Jorhat and Barpeta. There was definitely a push,” he said.

The guidelines issued by Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua required all civil servants, including those on contract and fixed salaries, to be fully vaccinated and to be in office. “Employees who are not fully immunized … shall take leave, if available, or extra ordinary leave for which they will not receive pay,” the order reads. An exception has been made for patients in whom vaccination is contraindicated according to regulations issued by the State Health Department or if certified by a physician.

Employees engaged in essential services would be allowed to attend their functions without any restrictions, including those of public or private organizations providing essential services, law enforcement services and those carrying out voting missions. Industrial units and tea gardens were allowed to operate observing proper Covid behavior.

All District Magistrates and Commissioners of Police have been asked to deploy teams to enforce Covid protocol in public places. Violators would face prosecution under the provisions of Sections 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, in addition to prosecution under Section 188 of the IPC and other relevant statutory provisions, according to the ‘order. The order said anyone found without a face mask or seen spitting in public places would be fined 1,000 rupees.

“This ordinance is absolutely not for forced enforcement but to make people aware that everyone should take the vaccine… We are not harassing anyone who enters cinemas, offices, shopping malls, etc… Take this vaccine means saving lives,” said Munindra Nath Ngatey. , director (home help). He said several unvaccinated elderly people died after being admitted to hospital.

Over 95% of people took the first dose of the vaccine in Assam and over 75% took the second dose. The state government has administered 4 crore doses of vaccine till Monday, including 2.29 crore first doses and 1.70 crore second dose. The state also administered 56,374 precautionary doses. The director of the NHM said that around 25 lakh to 35 lakh of people who are due to receive their second dose have yet to take it.

The state has declared areas with more than 10 positive cases in seven days as containment zones. Emergency services would continue in these areas. A nighttime curfew is also in effect from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Everything except government and private offices, essential services and take-out services must close before the start of the curfew.

While most educational institutions continue to operate via online sessions, physical classes have been allowed every other day for grades 1 and above in the Kamrup-Metro district and for grades 6 and above in the other districts. Physics courses are allowed for engineering students and final-year medical students taking undergraduate and postgraduate courses if they are fully vaccinated.

No more than 200 people (who have taken at least one dose of vaccine) can attend the wedding and religious ceremonies. Social or religious venues can operate with up to 60 fully immunized people per hour. Funeral rites are permitted with no more than 100 participants.

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