Floods in the time of coronavirus: Assam battles it all!

Assam, like many other parts of the country, is struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The floods have made the job of health and other government officials more challenging.

The floods in Assam are an annual feature, with the mighty Brahmaputra and other rivers of the north-eastern state overflowing every monsoon. The seemingly inevitable has happened this year too, with a whopping 50 lakh of the state’s 3 crore people affected by the floods that have wreaked havoc in the state. At least 26 of the 33 districts of Assam have been affected by the floods, and lakhs of people have been forced to seek shelter.

As many as 68 killed in Assam floods after two more people died on Thursday morning, according to the State Disaster Management Authority.

Around 48,07,111 people affected across 30 districts due to floods in the state, as of July 15.

The district administrations have set up 487 relief camps and distribution centers in 30 districts, where over 1.25 lakh men, women, and children have taken shelter.

Assam Flood

As many as 66 animals have died as the floods-water submerged in Assam’s Kaziranga national park, an official said on Wednesday. “This year’s flood was among the highest floods in the states. So far, 66 animals have died and 170 animals have been rescued from the national park,” he added.

The state has so far recorded 18,666 coronavirus cases and nearly 50 deaths due to COVID-19, the toll still far lower than many other larger states. Considering Assam is the gateway to the northeast and home to more than 30 million people, the number of deaths suggests the virus has not been as destructive in the state.

In recent days, more and more cases are being reported. In the last 24-hour period Assam saw a spike of 859 cases. A 14-day lockdown that started on June 28 in Kamrup was later extended till July 19.

The flood relief and rescue work is being spearheaded by the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force together with the local administration.

However, because of the nature of the rescue work, maintaining social distancing is a challenge. Some relief centers for flood victims may also have to double up as quarantine facilities with adequate sanitation infrastructure in place.

Local health officials have to ensure that flood relief centers don’t become new coronavirus hotspots, and people in them get adequate access to health services.

The health services, including medicines and an adequate number of doctors and nurses, in far-off districts in this large state, are making COVID-19 testing kits available to the flood victims who show symptoms of coronavirus are the need of the hour.

Assam is dealing with this dual disastrous situation.

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