40% of Odisha to be under lockdown for a week

Five districts and eight cities of the state will be under lockdown between March 22 and 27, 2020

By Priya Ranjan Sahu
Published: Saturday 21 March 2020

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced on March 21, 2020 that 40 per cent of the state will be under lockdown a week, in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The lockdown will start from 7 am on March 22 and last till March 29.

“In the last 60 days, the world has changed. We thought the change was happening in faraway places like China and South Korea but it has reached India now. The time has come for us to take extraordinary steps and sacrifice to protect our state and our people,” Patnaik said.

Five districts — Khurda, Cuttack, Ganjam, Kendrapara and Angul — as well as eight cities and towns including Puri, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Balasore, Jajpur, Jajpur Road and Bhadrak will be under lockdown, Subroto Bagchi, state government spokesperson for COVID-19, said.

So far, over 3,000 people have returned from foreign countries to Odisha. All of them are under home quarantine and under watch, said Patnaik.

The districts and towns to be under lockdown have more than 70 per cent of the total foreign returnees.

The government has postponed benefits under public distribution system (PDS) and pension schemes in the five districts and eight towns under lockdown. The collectors of the districts under lockdown had been empowered to add or delete any service on the basis of local assessment, Patnaik said.  

No public transport services including taxis and auto-rickshaws will be permitted to operate during the lockdown. Transportation to and from hospitals, airports, railway stations and bus terminuses, will, however be exempted.

All shops, commercial establishments, factories, godowns and workshops will close their operations. However, manufacturing units producing essential services are exempted from the lockdown.

The government has exempted flights, trains, buses, other transport and essential services from the lockdown. Clinics, medical shops, hospitals, vegetable, meat, milk shops have been allowed to remain open.

Shops may sell bread and bakery products but cannot sell tea and other beverages in the same area, according to government instructions.    

The administration has asked private companies to encourage their employees to work from home. Patnaik added that all service providers, whether engaged in government or private sector in COVID-19 services, would be declared emergency workers.   

Patnaik urged elected representatives like Members of Parliament, Legislative Assembly, and Panchayati Raj institutions to keep a watch on the lockdown and ensure the safety of citizens. He also appealed common people to stay at home. “There is no cure for this virus. The only cure is prevention,” the chief minister said.

He warned that the administration might take strong action on anyone violating the lockdown and thereby risking theirs and others’ lives.

The government has prohibited congregation of more than seven persons at one place.    

Odisha reported its first coronavirus positive case on March 16 and second positive case on March 19.

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