Odisha Covid-19 cases touch 2 lakh, temporary shutdown in some places
Officials said the districts of Khurda, Cuttack and Puri alone have registered more than 32,000 cases this month as they continued to be the hotspots while the infection was fast spreading in 15 other districts.
As Covid-19 infections in Odisha touched 2 lakh on Friday on the back of 42,000 new cases in the last 10 days alone, the state swiftly climbed to the eighth position among the top 10 states with Covid patients, overtaking Telangana and Bihar.
On Friday, Odisha recorded 4,208 new cases taking the total to 2,01,096 and 15 more deaths taking the total fatalities to 767. While the first lakh cases came in 169 days, the next lakh came in 27 days due to rising positivity rate and increased testing. The positivity rate on Friday was around 8 per cent higher than India’s rate of 5.7 per cent. The average positivity rate over the last 10 days has been 8.6 per cent.
Officials said the districts of Khurda, Cuttack and Puri alone have registered more than 32,000 cases this month as they continued to be the hotspots while the infection was fast spreading in 15 other districts - Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Jharsuguda, Balasore, Angul, Kandhamal, Nabarangpur, Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Sonepur, Mayurbhanj, Kendrapara, Bargarh, Bhadrak and Nuapada.
The rising infections in these districts have taken the total number of active cases to 34,844, but health department officials said there is little cause for worry as more than 75 per cent of the infected were in home isolation. “The health teams of respective districts are in regular touch with the patients in home isolation. However, we are shifting serious patients to hospitals. We have enough beds for people who need ICU and ventilators. We expect the cases to plateau by the beginning of October,” said PK Mohapatra, additional chief secretary of the health department.
Though the state government claimed that the situation was well under control, opposition leaders questioned the state government’s statistics on Covid death toll. With at least 30-40 bodies being cremated at Bhubaneswar’s only crematorium everyday, opposition leaders alleged that the actual Covid death toll may be higher. “Whenever you visit the crematorium, you can find cremations underway. The government should come clean,” said Choudhury.
Similarly, BJP leader Bhrigu Buxipatra alleged that the state government is putting up false data. “Ganjam, which used to be the epicentre of Covid a month ago, has not recorded many deaths due to Covid, though patients had tested positive for the virus. The government simply attributed the deaths to some other reasons. If you see the government statistics, the death toll due to Covid is mostly within 10-15 on an average. This is data management,” he alleged.
Buxipatra and Choudhury said the recent government directive on not subjecting all dead bodies to Covid test was a ploy to keep the death toll low. “Why could not the government conduct Covid test on the dead patients? Many persons have died showing Covid like symptoms over the last 3 months,” said Choudhury.
Well-known microbiologist Dr TM Mohapatra said the state government directive on not conducting Covid tests on dead bodies was baffling. “There is no such guideline from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on not conducting the Covid tests on the dead. It seems the state government is exploiting the silence of the ICMR on it,” he said.
However, commissioner of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, Prem Chandra Choudhury, said the rise in cremation in Bhubaneswar was due to diversion of bodies to the city instead of Swargadwar crematorium in Puri.
“Many of the bodies that are being cremated are from nearby districts and not all deaths are due to Covid,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Jharsuguda district administration banned selling of roadside fast food from Friday due to lack of social distancing by consumers. District Collector Saroj Kumar Samal said roadside vending of fast food and other joints will not be allowed for 15 days in Jharsuguda district as people were not adhering to social distancing and mask guidelines.
In Nayagarh district, the district collector on Friday ordered a two-day lockdown on September 29 and 30 for complete sanitisation. In Bolangir town, the local traders started a week-long shutdown from Friday as Covid-19 cases went up. Though the district administration said it is not going to impose any shutdown as per the Central Government’s guidelines, the traders association appealed to the businessmen to down their shutters during this period.