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File photo: AP
File photo: AP

Covid-19: After accolades for fighting cyclones, Odisha readies for next battle

  • Odisha has so far recorded only one positive case after testing 32 samples, but it is not taking things lightly
  • It has upfront earmarked 225 crore from the State Disaster Relief Fund to contain COVID-19 outbreak

NEW DELHI: When tropical cyclone Fani, categorized as an 'extremely severe cyclonic storm', headed towards Odisha in May, the state administration swung into action and evacuated 1.2 million people to cyclone centres built across its 480 km long coastline.

The cyclone, equivalent to a category 4 hurricane, killed 64 people in the state. Compare this with the super cyclonic storm that hit Odisha in October 1999 and left more than 10,000 dead.

Odisha's gigantic pre-cyclone evacuation effort with a “zero casualty" approach won the state accolade from the United Nations, making it a model for disaster preparedness.

Having learnt it the hard way to fight natural disasters on a regular basis, Odisha is leaving no stone unturned to combat any spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Though Odisha has so far recorded only one positive case after testing 32 samples, it is not taking things lightly.

Apart from shutting down educational institutes and shopping malls to reduce chances of community spread of the coronavirus, the state has launched a dedicated toll-free number 104 and a website, making it mandatory for persons entering the state since 4 March to register on the portal.

Such persons are required to undergo home quarantine for 14 days, making it punishable for any non-compliance. In the first 24 hours of the website launch, 1,239 people have registered on the website, including the royal family of Puri. Gajapati Divya Singh Dev, considered the reincarnation of Lord Jagannath, and his family went into isolation after return from US tour.

The state government has also announced an incentive of 15,000 for every such registration and home isolation.

Odisha has upfront earmarked 225 crore from the State Disaster Relief Fund to contain COVID-19 outbreak in the state. The funds will be utilized for sample collection, measures for quarantine, healthcare facilities and temporary accommodations.

The state government has established 53 isolation camps with 540 beds in total. 5 lakh has been allocated for opening quarantine centre at every panchayat level. It has also decided to pay in advance allowances worth 1000 crore to 48 lakh beneficiaries, including the old and people with disabilities, for four months starting April.

Ration to each family will also be made available in advance for three months, including delivery at the doorsteps for the elderly without the requirement of biometric verification to reduce the spread of the disease.

Individuals aged over 60 years face the biggest risk of severe disease, with the mortality rate highest among people over 80 years of age, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The country has recorded over 125 positive cases and three deaths from COVID-19 so far.

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