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    Assam Polls: Covid test must for poll officials, agents ahead of vote counting on May 2

    The testing of all the counting officials and agents must be undertaken on April 30 in pre-identified and notified testing centres

    Guwahati: In view of the increasing number of COVID cases reported across the state and to ensure the safety of all personnel involved in counting related duties on May 2, the health department of Assam has made testing of all counting personnel and COVID appropriate behaviour within the counting hall mandatory.

    There are approximately 35,000 counting officials and counting agents who are to be engaged in counting process across the state.

    As Election Commission of India has asked for a negative test report within 48 hours of start of counting, the testing of all the counting officials and agents must be undertaken on April 30 in pre-identified and notified testing centres, which may be a govt school/institution with spacious premises where large scale COVID testing can be conducted maintaining social distancing, stated the Anurag Goel, principal secretary, the health department in a govt notification.

    Each testing location shall be arranged with multiple counters where registration and testing of the personnel can be undertaken. Sufficient lab technicians under a Medical officer shall be notified for each testing location in the district in consultation with the joint DHS of the district.

    All counting officials and agents will be tested with Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and if found negative, will be given a RAT negative certificate at the testing point itself, which they may show while being screened at the counting hall on the day of counting.

    On the other hand, any counting officials or agents if found positive in RAT, shall be provided medical facilities in the nearest COVID hospital or any other separate identified isolated centres or allowed home isolation strictly on the basis of home isolation criteria.

    Only the symptomatic RAT-negative persons need to be tested with RTPCR. Such symptomatic persons have been asked not to engage in the counting process unless their RTPCR results are made available within May 1, 2021.

    108 ambulances shall be kept on standby in such testing locations to take the COVID positive persons to the nearest COVID hospital or home isolation as per the medical officers’ advice.

    The health department also directed to provide all relevant COVID protection materials to the counting officials and counting agents from the DEO. The stock of all necessary material shall be verified and confirmed in advance and shall be provided to the counting officials and agents immediately on arrival at the counting venue. This included gloves, masks, PPE kits wherever applicable and hand sanitizers at multiple points for easy access.

    The concerned Deputy Commissioners have been authorized to notify a Nodal officer for receiving, testing and reporting the results of the counting officials and agents in a smooth manner, the order copy stated.

    The three-phase election to the 126-member Assam assembly is over and the results will be declared on Sunday along with that of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala besides the Union Territory of Puducherry.

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