Odisha orders 48-hour shutdown in 3 cities apprehending community spread of COVID-19

Decision after person in posh Bhubaneswar neighbourhood tests positive without any travel history

By Priya Ranjan Sahu, Ashis Senapati
Published: Friday 03 April 2020
Volunteers supplying essentials to citizens in Surya Nagar locality of Bhubaneswar, that has been sealed for containment. Photo: Priya Ranjan Sahu

Odisha declared a 48-hour shutdown in the cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack city as well as the town of Bhadrak on April 3, 2020, to control the probable spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the community.

The state has already recorded its sixth positive patient of COVID-19.

The decision to shut down, however, was taken on the basis of the findings of the fifth COVID positive person, who did not have any recent travel history.

“The shutdown will start from 8 pm on April 3 and continue till 8 pm on April 5. All shops including those selling essential commodities will remain closed during the shutdown. Strong action will be taken against those violating the shutdown order,” Odisha Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy said in Bhubaneswar.

State Director General of Police (DGP) Abhay described the shutdown as a “kind of curfew”. The government has cancelled all passes to people and new passes will be issued in case of extreme emergency.

During the shutdown, grocery and vegetable shops will be closed and there will not be any supply of milk and other essential items. Though medicines shops have been allowed to remain open, the number has been restricted. Concerned officials will decide which medicine shop will remain open.

People in both urban areas have been asked to remain in their house during the shutdown period. Police have been asked to pick those roaming in the street and put them in 14-day quarantine. Heavy penalties will also be imposed on shutdown violators, the chief secretary and DGP said.

Odisha has so far tested 1,113 samples of which six cases have been found to be positive for COVID-19. The sixth person who tested positive on April 3 hails from Cuttack. He had recently visited New Delhi.

Four of the COVID-19 positive patients are from Bhubaneswar while one person is from Bhadrak.

The state government took the decision for the 48-hour shutdown in the three urban areas as the fifth person, a resident of Bhubaneswar’s posh Surya Nagar locality, who had tested positive for COVID-19 two days ago, did not have recent travel history, neither abroad nor within the country.

It was also found that he did not have a history of contact with anyone who had returned to the state from outside. The government became apprehensive of spread of the virus in the community and was trying to break the cycle with the 48 hours, health officials said.

The administration has already sealed the whole Surya Nagar locality for containment. The area has many prominent houses including the governor’s residence. Health teams have been visiting each house of the area to ascertain whether any person has any flu-like symptoms, health officials said.

Meanwhile the state government on 2nd April  established a two COVID-19 hospitals at Cuttack and Bhubaneswar with a combined strength of 650 beds. The first hospital with 500 beds has been established at KIMS, Bhubaneswar , while the second with a capacity of 125 beds at Ashwini hospital at Cuttack.

Other measures

The government has decided to temporarily reserve around 500 beds with ICU facilities exclusively for COVID-19 patients of Ganjam district that has recorded the influx of a large number of migrant workers from other states.

The state government has also stepped up swab testing and urged people who returned from abroad and COVID-19-hit states to volunteer for tests if they develop any symptom. They were advised not to come to hospital and call on the 104 helpline.

Around 245 cases have been registered by the police between April 1 and April 2, for different violations of regulations and guidelines related to COVID-19. This includes 229 cases for violation of lock down, six cases for violation of ‘home quarantine’ and seven for other issues. One case has been registered for rumour mongering and two cases for clashes with police. A total of 342 persons have been arrested for various violations during lock down, a police official said.

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