COVID:19: More than 50 cases in a day rock Odisha

The spike in the number of positive cases is primarily due to migrants returning from Gujarat

By Priya Ranjan Sahu
Published: Friday 08 May 2020
Migrants from Kerala being screened at a bus station in Ganjam. Photo: Ganjam_Admin

Ganjam district emerged as Odisha’s top novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hotspot on May 8, 2020 even as the state registered its biggest single day spike with 52 positive cases. At least 50 of them had returned from Surat in Gujarat.

The SARS-CoV-2 infected persons are between the ages of 21 and 58.

Out of the total 52 cases, 43 are from Ganjam, Odisha’s most populous district that sends the largest number of migrant workers to other states, mostly to the textile mills in Surat.

Odisha health department officials said that 42 of the infected persons returned from Surat while one came back from Kerala.

The steep increase of 86 COVID-19 cases in two successive days has taken Odisha’s total COVID-19 positive cases to 271.

On May 7, at least 34 persons tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, out of whom, 30 were Surat returnees. The state has tested 52,974 samples for COVID-19.

The sudden spike in COVID-19 positive cases after the migrant workers started returning home on May 3 has thrown a major challenge to the state government, which has now doubled the quarantine time to 28 days from 14 days.

“People are required to spend 21 days in the institutional quarantine facility and another seven days in home isolation,” Subroto Bagchi, Odisha’s chief spokesperson for COVID-19, said.

With 71 infected persons, Ganjam now tops the districts with the highest number of COVID-19 positive cases in the state. It is followed by Jajpur with 55 cases and Khurda with 51 cases.

The district was declared a red zone on May 7, after the sudden increase in the number of infected patients.  

While announcing the government’s intention to bring the state’s migrants back home, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had said that many of them would test positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus.

However, he said, appropriate arrangement had been made to meet the challenge.

“The sudden spike in infected persons coming from Gujarat reflects the situation there,” an Odisha government official said.

So far, over 40,000 migrant workers have reached Odisha and many more are expected to return home.

Around a million migrant workers from Odisha are stuck in different states of the country. Over 0.5 million of them have registered with the state government to return to Odisha.

Around 0.25 million workers from Ganjam are said to be in Gujarat, including over 0.1 million in Surat itself. Gujarat’s cities are now among the biggest COVID-19 hotspots of the country.

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