Several foreigners in Assam have said they are facing problems as the tourism sector in the state grappled with the dwindling number of visitors amid the spread of coronavirus.
No positive cases of coronavirus have been detected in Assam but there is an alert after a 76-year-old US tourist, who had taken a seven-day cruise on the Brahmaputra in the state along with his partner and was later tested positive for coronavirus in Bhutan last week.
A Greek national had a difficult time in Majuli, the world’s largest island on the Brahmaputra, on Thursday when she was refused transport by local auto-rickshaw drivers for fear of contracting Covid-19.
The woman was trying to reach a screening centre for coronavirus set up by the local authorities. She finally managed to reach her destination when a scooterist offered her a ride.
A Spanish tourist also faced problems in Silchar, the headquarters of Cachar district, when hotels refused to give him a room.
The district administration had recently issued an order asking hotels to submit daily records of visitors to police and health officials. They were asked to be extra careful in giving accommodation to foreigners.
“I tried nearly 20 hotels, but they all said no. So, finally, I went to the local police station for help. They kindly offered me a room in a government rest house,” Pablo Fernandez said while speaking to local journalists.
The Spanish tourist, who had visited several countries on a bicycle, had reached Silchar on Wednesday. Reports say that a preliminary screening of the tourist at a local hospital had shown no symptoms of coronavirus.
There were 37 people on board the cruise ship MV Mahabaahu, of whom four including the infected man and his friend were US tourists. The others were staff or crew members of the tour operator who owns the ship.
The state administration had quarantined 741 people who had come in contact with the US tourist during his time in Assam when he visited Guwahati, Majuli, Jorhat and Kaziranga National Park.
Tests conducted for nine of the 741 people, who showed some symptoms of coronavirus, have tested negative. Twenty-two foreign tourists had travelled with the US tourist on the cruise ship MV Mahabaahu.
Tests conducted for 9 of the 741 people, who showed some symptoms of coronavirus, have been found negative.
The fear of coronavirus is adversely affecting the tourism sector in the state, which was already reeling under protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) since December last year.
“The tourism sector has been very badly hit due to coronavirus. There has been a drop in both domestic and forensic tourists by around 80-90% in comparison to this period last year,” Sachin Goswami, an adviser to the Tour Operators Association of Assam, said.
Three states in the northeast—Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Sikkim—have already banned the entry of foreigners as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus.
While Mizoram has sealed its borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, Manipur has also closed border points with Myanmar as a safety measure.
India reported its first coronavirus death on Thursday as more than 70 have been infected by the virus.
The state is on alert after a US tourist, who had taken a seven-day cruise on the Brahmaputra and was later found to be coronavirus positive in Bhutan last week.
The state administration had quarantined 741 people who had come in contact with the US tourist during his time in Assam.
Tests conducted for nine of the 741 people, who showed some symptoms of coronavirus, have tested negative.