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Battling Coronavirus: Is Odisha Leading By Example?

04 April 2020

Sangita Agarwal

Bhubaneswar:  With 3 cities completely shut down for 48 hours, Odisha is on war-footing to prevent Phase III (community transmission). With a surge of 15 positive cases in a single day, the authorities have sealed the places of concern in the larger public interest. Chief Spokesperson on COVID-19 Subroto Bagchi mentioned that though curfew is a strong step, it is necessary in these times because if cases increase, we should be acquainted with it. 

“These 48 hours will be used to know the possible contacts of the detected cases where there is no travel history. And to find out all the people who could have been potentially infected by such cases," a government notification read. With new cases popping up, there will be agressive contact tracing.

The Odisha government has been pro-active and was among the fore-runners in the country by taking strong steps to contain the deadly virus and formulating a preemptive response to this crisis.

• An online portal and a helpline number was generated where foreign returnees were required to register themselves. It even offered incentive of Rs 15,000 to people who registered themselves and completed the quarantine period of 14 days.

• Based on the distribution of and concentration of foreign returnees, the authorities identified the areas and announced a lockdown in five districts and eight towns for one week from 22 March. It is in sharp contrast with that of the central government, which announced a nation-wide lockddown with four hours of notice using uniformity as a convenient tool.

• Setting up two dedicated hospitals for covid 19 patients with a total of 950 beds

• Similar facility with 700 beds in Cuttack, and 500 beds with ICU facilities in Ganjam (as it witnessed influx of large number of migrant workers from other states) exclusively for Covid 19 patients.s

• To overcome the dearth of doctors, Odisha government will also give extensive training to MBBS students so that they can be deployed to combat the coronavirus outbreak. 

• The government has also decided to engage microbiologists on a temporary basis to ensure the smooth functioning of the district public health laboratories and collection of blood and swab samples, the official said. 

• The newly-appointed medical officers, who have not joined the services in their respective places of posting, have been directed to join immediately.

• A dedicated COVID-19 screening OPD for suspected cases in AIIMS, 20 ventilators (while 40 more ordered), and an isolation unit have been made as part of its measures to grapple with the emerging situation.

• The state government has set up 7,276 temporary medical camps in all the 6,798 gram panchayats with necessary facilities and 366 urban TMCs to tackle any emergent situation. 

Rangin Tripathy, a faculty at National Law University Odisha who recently returned from Harvard after completing his Fulbright Post-Doctoral Fellowship from Harvard Law School was in full praises for the steps taken by the Odisha government to contain this deadly virus. He was quarantined in his home at Cuttack. As per him, the Odisha government has done a far better job of monitoring the quarantine situation than most of its counterparts. "Flattening the proverbial curve has been challenging for most countries around the world. Trying to keep ahead of it may save more lives and in systematically monitoring home quarantine, Odisha is leading by example".