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Amid a spike in Covid-19 cases, the Odisha government on Friday sealed the state's border with West Bengal where a triple mutant variant of the virus has been found, reported news agency PTI.

Strict vigil is also in force at three major check posts along the inter-state border, which pass through Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts.

However, there are many porous village routes through which people may enter the coastal state from West Bengal without checks, suspect officials.

People crossing through the checkpoints are being asked to furnish a negative RT-PCR report not older than 48 hours or their vaccination certificates. After entering the state, they are also required to quarantine for 14 days.

The quarantine rules were announced by Odisha earlier this week. An order stated that the travellers would be sent to institutional quarantine or paid quarantine centres.

Those carrying the required documents will also have to undergo home quarantine for 14 days, said Balasore district magistrate-cum-collector K Sudarshan Chakravarty.

Meanwhile, the sealing of the border sparked tension in certain areas as the sudden move inconvenienced the locals, who had gone to the markets of the neighbouring state.

At least two marriage parties were stopped by the police on NH -60 in Balasore as they did not possess Covid-19 negative reports.

Debasis Dey of Dantan in West Bengal was on his way to Motiganj in Balasore when the bridegroom's family was stopped at the Lakhannath check-post on NH 60, police were quoted as saying by PTI.

Abas Senapati of Belda in West Medinipur district of West Bengal, was on his way to Paradip when his family members were also stopped.

The police have also intensified checks at bus stands and railway stations, Bhubaneswar Railway Station director Chittaranjan Nayak said.

Exit from Platform No. 6 of Bhubaneswar railway station has been stopped while arrangements for both entry and exit have been made at Platform No. 1, Nayak said.

A total of 30 trains from West Bengal cross Odisha of which nine trains come to Bhubaneswar with around 5,000-7,000 passengers daily, he said.

The police have also tightened enforcement in the holy town of Puri as a large number of people visit the Jagannath Dham.

"We are alert and the police have asked owners of hotels and lodges to keep a tab on people coming from Bengal," said Puri SP Kanwar Vishal Singh.

Speaking about the triple mutant variant of coronavirus, director of Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), Bhubaneswar, Ajay Parida Parida said, "No such virus has so far been found in Odisha."

He, however, said that the triple mutant variant of Covid-19 is more infectious than other strains.

The state government had earlier sealed the border with Chhattisgarh.

Weekend lockdown

The Odisha administration has also decided to impose a weekend lockdown in all urban areas of the state between 9 pm on Friday and 5 am on Monday.

However, relaxation for one hour has been announced on Saturday and Sunday.

Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) PK Jena said the weekend shutdown will be relaxed from 5 am to 6 am for morning walkers.

He added that the weekend shutdown will continue along with the daily night curfew.

Transport of oxygen

Odisha Police said that a total of 15 tankers containing medical oxygen from Rourkela, Jajpur, and Angul district have been dispatched to Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad, Indore, Pune, Mumbai and Nagpur in the last 24 hours.

A dedicated corridor has been formed by Odisha Police for prompt and unhindered movement of the tankers, a statement issued by the police said.

A Special Cell was formed under ADG Law and Order Y K Jethwa, ADG (L&O) as the Nodal Officer for coordinated action for loading and transportation of medical oxygen by Odisha to states facing a deficit supply of the life-saving gas.

Three Indian Air Force planes reached here with eight empty oxygen tankers to take medical oxygen from the state.

With inputs from agencies.


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