Frontline workers set to play key role against COVID-19 in Odisha

State launches massive campaign to engage Anganwadi and ASHA workers to stall virus‘ march

By Priya Ranjan Sahu
Published: Tuesday 24 March 2020

The Odisha government has launched a massive operation to engage workers such as those working in Anganwadis and under the ASHA scheme to contain the spread of novel coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) in the state, especially in rural areas.

There are over 72,000 Anganwadi workers, 45,000 ASHA workers and one lakh Panchayati Raj representatives in Odisha.

The government has already started a process of awareness generation about COVID-19 through frontline workers in urban areas as well as at gram panchayat and block levels in rural areas, officials said. Quarantine facilities have been readied at block levels in rural areas for migrant workers to be used after screening them.

Though the Anganwadi centres have been shut down in view of COVID-19 preparedness, Anganwadi workers and Panchayati Raj institution members have been asked to check the food availability in people’s houses.

ASHAs have been asked to monitor health conditions and report to the administration. The frontline workers have also been asked to note the return of migrant labourers in their villages and whether they have gone through screening for coronavirus.

On March 23, over 2,000 migrant labourers reached Berhampur railway station in Ganjam by train. Officials said that they were sent to their villages in 43 buses after proper screening.

Though the health department has been made the nodal department in the fight against COVID-19, the government has formed different committees to work independently to lessen the burden on the former. This, even as it is making available food, medicines and other essential items to people stranded in their houses or quarantine facilities.

The state government has released Rs 200 crore for the purpose. Besides, the special relief commissioner has released another Rs 225 crore from the State Disaster Management Authority to the health department.

The government has enhanced the spending limits of collectors and chief district medical officers to ensure that benefits reach people, especially the poor, who will be hit the most by the outbreak. The government has decided to give three months’ pension to old and disabled persons, and widows in advance, said an official.

The administration has closed all hostels under the Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste Development department in the state. The schools have been told to hand over the students to their guardians along with the scholarship money and ensure their safe return home.

So far, 110 samples have been tested by the Odisha government of which two have tested positive, while others have tested negative. At least 3,816 persons with a travel history abroad have registered themselves with the authorities.

On the midnight of March 24, 2020, the administration declared a total lockdown across all 30 districts of the state. The lockdown will last till March 29 midnight as a proactive step to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the first phase, the government had declared a total lockdown in five coastal districts on March 21. This was done keeping in view the number of foreign returnees to these districts. This was later extended on March 23 to another nine districts. 

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