A 71-year-old man infected with coronavirus died in Assam taking the number of COVID-19 fatalities to three while eight others tested positive for the deadly virus as the cases in the state rose to 108, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday.
The man, who was suffering from neck cancer and tested positive last week after returning from Mumbai by bus, died due to respiratory distress in Guwahati Medical College Hospital, the minister said.
"He died at 11.05 am... and the cause of death has been marked as both neck cancer and COVID-19," the minister said at a press conference here.
The wife and son of the deceased have been shifted out from their quarantine facility in a hotel and admitted to the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital, Sarma said
Four more positive cases have been reported on Monday night taking the total number of positive cases to eight during the day, the minister said.
Among the eight cases, four are from Golaghat, two from Cachar and one each from Nagaon and Jorhat.
Of the 108 positive cases in the state, there are 62 active cases, three deaths, two migrated out and 41 have been cured and discharged from the hospital, the minister said.
The death of the cancer patient is the third fatality due to COVID-19 in Assam with the first being a Tablighi Jamaat returnee from Hailakandi who died at Silchar Medical College and Hospital and a 16-year-old girl who was detected to be positive after she passed away at B Barooah Cancer Hospital in Guwahati
"There is, however, no need to panic as most of the cases detected positive are from quarantine camp and so far community transmission has not taken place", he said.
The health department has conducted community surveillance in 16,000 villages so far and not a single case has been detected, he said.
"The COVID-19 tally will increase in the state but the success of Assam's COVID management will depend on the strict quarantine system adopted and it will spread to the community, only if this fails", the minister said.
The state has adopted the policy of 'ruthless quarantine with a big heart' which implies that all coming from outside will have to undergo "strict quarantine and the government will take care of them", he said.
People are keen to return to their homes "and this is quite natural but we appeal to them to space out their travel, so that we can provide them with the best quarantine facilities", he said.
The minister said that so far 48,000 people have returned to the state and more will come but "if they all come together, it will be difficult for us to provide them with quality quarantine facilities which will pose a problem leading to possible community transmission of the disease".
The state government was likely to incur an expenditure of Rs 300 crore for the quarantine of one lakh people and to provide financial assistance to four lakh people from Assam staying in other states under Assam Cares, he said.
The Assam government is negotiating with the World Bank in this regard and "it will help us considerably, if it works out", Sarma said.
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