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A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

India’s northeast has been relatively less affected by the pandemic, but the lockdown takes its toll.

By Rajeev Bhattacharyya for
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A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

Life under lockdown in Golaghat, which has registered the highest number of cases and is one of the five districts identified as a “hotspot” in the state.

Credit: Special arrangement
A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

The border district of Dhubri is another hotspot in Assam where the lockdown has been partially successful.

Credit: Special arrangement
A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

Barricades at different places in Tinsukia district prevent the entry of outsiders.

Credit: Indraneel Agasty & Rishu Kalantri
A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

Lesser Whistling Ducks emerge at Guwahati’s historic Dighalipukhuri after a long gap during the lockdown.

Credit: Hafiz Ahmed
A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

Two violators of the lockdown face punishment by the police in Tinsukia.

Credit: Rishu Kalantri
A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

A beggar scavenging for food at a garbage dump in Tinsukia.

Credit: Rishu Kalantri
A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

Farmers dumping vegetables in the Brahmaputra River at Dhubri for a lack of sales.

Credit: Special arrangement
A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

Government workers prepare to spray disinfectant at a location in Guwahati.

Credit: Special arrangement
A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

Migrant workers from Bihar are interned in Tinsukia after being apprehended fleeing in a truck.

Credit: Rishu Kalantri
A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

A consignment of Yaba – a synthetic drug manufactured in Myanmar – seized near the India-Bangladesh border in Assam during the lockdown.

Credit: Border Security Force
A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

A group of women daily workers gathering food from households in Guwahati.

Credit: Rajeev Bhattacharyya
A Glimpse Inside India’s COVID-19 Lockdown in Assam

Monkeys and goats being fed at a temple in Dhubri.

Credit: Pankaj Saha

Among the regions less impacted by COVID-19 in India is the frontier region of the northeast, which, as of Sunday, had reported 50 cases out of a total of over 16,000 in the entire country.

Assam, with 34 cases, topped the list among the eight states in the northeast and is the only state in the region where a continuous rise in COVID-19 cases had been reported. Five districts have also been included in the “red zone” or hotspots identified all over the country.

Assam health minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, told the media that the chain of the COVID-19 pandemic  has been broken in the state as all the patients were successfully quarantined, preventing the possibility of further transmission.

Golaghat has recorded the highest number of cases among all the districts in Assam, with nine confirmed infections. So far one person has died in the state and 17 have been discharged from hospitals.

However, the Assam government has not been entirely successful in enforcing the lockdown, which came into effect on March 24. Police have arrested over 1,200 people for violating the lockdown across the state.

Of the 50 people diagnosed positive in the northeast, as many as 34 had either attended the Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation in New Delhi last month or came into contact with associates who had attended the event.

Cases of COVID-19 in the northeast emerged very late compared to the rest of the country, as the first infection was reported toward the end of March in Manipur, when a student who had returned from the United Kingdom was found positive.

Subsequently, all the hill states, such as Sikkim, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram, were put on an alert and started taking all necessary precautions. The borders with the neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Bhutan were also sealed, preventing the movement of people and commodities.

Assam is placed at number 35 in terms of the number of cases among all states and union territories in India. Within the country, Maharashtra continues to have the most cases, with over 3,000, according to data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Rajeev Bhattacharyya is a senior journalist in Assam.