Chief Minister Conrad Sangma did not have to get a Covid-19 test after making a trip to and from Guwahati yesterday, according to protocols set by the Health Department.
Sangma has been pilloried for making the one-day trip to Guwahati to attend the swearing-in of new Assam Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, as Meghalaya reels from the terrible effects of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a social media post today, Sangma said, “Some people are concerned about me following or rather not following protocols. Let me assure everyone that protocols apply to all. But we should still be careful and Covid could happen to anyone, anytime. Be safe always, wear masks and sanitise hands regularly.”
He did not mention whether or not he got himself tested on entering Meghalaya but accompanying the text was a screenshot of the Health Department guidelines for travellers into the state. In this the CM had highlighted a section that states that those who have a certificate to prove that they have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine can enter Meghalaya without having to undertake an RT-PCR test. There are several states from where entrants will have to take a test whether they have been double vaccinated or not, but Assam is not one of these.
Sangma has already been vaccinated twice (using both occasions to encourage the public to get the jab) and should have a certificate to prove it. His protection officers and drivers should also, likewise, have been vaccinated as frontline workers.
Nevertheless, he was criticised by numerous members of the public online for taking what many felt was an unnecessary risk in attending so large a public function even when strict restrictions on gatherings and travel bans are in place in his own state.
Opposition MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh also questioned the logic of excusing the vaccinated from being subjected to RT-PCR tests. Health Department officials have already warned the public that even those who have received the jab can still get Covid-19 and pass it on to others.
On her Facebook page, Lyngdoh said, “The Chief Minister has responded saying vaccinated people are exempt from testing. Is the government’s rationale for this policy based on a published, peer-reviewed scientific study? The government has answers to these and citizens ought to know.”
Congress spokesperson Zenith Sangma also criticised the decision to attend the Guwahati ceremony.
He said that the CM’s implying that he was not at risk because he has been vaccinated was “misleading”.