34 migrants who had returned from Surat, tested positive, 24 of them from Ganjam
Odisha on May 7, 2020, registered its biggest single-day spike in novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases after 34 persons tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, out of which 30 had recently returned from Surat in Gujarat.
One infected person from Jagatsinghpur district had a travel history to West Bengal. Four others were infected in Bhubaneswar.
The state government has declared Ganjam district as a ‘red zone’ as 24 of the infected are from there. Ganjam, Odisha’s most populated district as well as fourth-biggest in terms of area, is home to the largest number of the state’s migrant workers.
Those who returned from Surat also include four persons from Mayurbhanj, the state’s biggest district, with a sizable population of tribals and two persons from Balasore district.
Odisha’s Additional Chief Secretary (Health), PK Mohapatra, sent the official communication to the Ganjam collector, notifying the district as a red zone. The government had earlier notified Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore and the capital city of Bhubaneswar, which comes under Khurda district, as red zones.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said on April 19 that the state was preparing a roadmap to bring back migrant workers stuck in other states. The government also declared an incentive of Rs 2,000 for each returned migrant who would complete the quarantine process.
More than five lakh migrants have registered with the state government to return home, following the government’s announcement.
According to the plan, a total of 35,540 migrants have returned to Odisha by buses and trains till May 7. The quarantine of 14 days is mandatory for all migrant workers who return to Odisha.
However, the state government has now cancelled permission for migrants to travel by bus after several road mishaps.
Around a million migrant workers from Odisha are stuck in different states of the country. Of these, around 0.25 million workers from Ganjam are said to be in Gujarat, including over a lakh in Surat itself. Gujarat’s cities are now among the biggest COVID-19 hotspots of the country.
The government has assured that all preparations for food and accommodation of the migrants supposed to return, have been made.
However, officials admitted they faced daunting challenges ahead in handling the huge influx of people, many of whom need immediate sample testing.
Till May 7, a total of 50,514 samples were tested in the state, out of which, 219 were found to be positive. The state has reported two deaths while 62 infected persons have recovered.
Jajpur district has the highest positive cases at 55. It is followed by Khurda with 51 cases, Balasore with 27, Bhadrak with 21 and Ganjam with 28.
The state is now testing a maximum of 3,000 samples per day in six laboratory facilities. On April 28, Patnaik had asked officials to increase per day sample testing to 15,000 per day.
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