Odisha sees Covid-19 cases double in a month
In a worrying development, the number of Covid-19 cases in Odisha have shot up to 6,859 in the last four weeks, more than three times what it was on June 1.Updated: Jun 29, 2020 23:11 IST
Odisha continues to witness a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases despite the state government having adopted measures such as weekend shutdown in 11 of the 30 districts at the beginning of this month. These districts had accounted for 78% of the total 2,245 infections in the state on June 1.
Officials had reasoned that imposing weekend lockdown would not only help contain the spread of coronavirus but will reduce burden on its frontline workers such as police, doctors, nurses, anganwadi workers and ASHA workers. The 11 districts where the weekend lockdown was imposed were Khurda, Ganjam, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Nayagarh, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore and Bolangir and they account for little less than half of Odisha’s total population.
However, in a worrying development, the number of Covid-19 cases in the state have shot up to 6,859 in the last four weeks, more than three times what it was on June 1. The number of deaths, too, have gone up from 7 to 23 during the same period. The number of hotspot districts have gone up from 11 to 14 with Gajapati, Kandhamal and Keonjhar now reporting 800 cases between them.
Also, as the weekend shutdown in June came to an end on Sunday, an analysis of the Covid statistics of the 11 districts showed that the drastic measure may not be helping. On June 6, when the weekend shutdown started, the number of Covid-19 cases in Odisha was 3,037 of which the 11 districts accounted for 2,142 cases, about 70 per cent.
However, on June 28, the number of Covid-19 cases in the state jumped to 6,859, more than twice than what it was when the weekend shutdown started. By June 28, the 11 districts where the weekend shutdown was being observed, reported 4887 cases, accounting for 71 per cent of the total cases. In Ganjam, the cases in the same period doubled from 636 to 1367 while in Khurda it trebled from 266 to 814. In Cuttack district, the cases increased by more than two and half times from 202 and 557.
“The lockdown or shutdown is hardly any solution to battle the pandemic. Announcing a shutdown or lockdown may look politically attractive, but as we have seen in the country it has not helped much except destroying the economy. The simple solution to the pandemic right now is wearing masks and social distancing. Weekend shutdowns would mean people would sacrifice social distancing norms to do last minute shoppings on weekdays,” said noted virologist Jacob John, former professor of Christian Medical College, Vellore.
In Bhubaneswar and elsewhere in the state, there have been scores of instances this month when people have flouted social distancing norms as well as wearing masks in public. Last week, the chief of state unit of Congress in Odisha was penalised for not wearing a mask. So far over Rs 1.6 crore have been collected from people for not wearing masks and violating social distancing norms.
The other reason for weekend lockdown was to lessen the burden on frontline workers. But analysis of data shows that even that did not happen.
In Cuttack, one of the 11 districts where the weekend shutdown was enforced, 8 people including 4 patients, their attendant and 2 nurses have tested positive in a government cancer hospital over the last two days. The nurses of Acharya Harihar Regional Cancer Centre on Monday staged a protest demanding a quarantine centre in the hospital. In the same district, the sub divisional police officer of Athgarh, and the inspector of Badamba police station have tested positive while in Ganjam district, the SDPO of Chhatrapur and inspector of Chhatrapur police station have tested positive this month. In Bhubaneswar, at least 7 doctors at AIIMS have tested positive while in Berhampur’s MKCG Medical College and Hospital, 4 doctors and 8 nurses tested positive this month. In Ganjam district, 4 doctors in Covid hospitals have been infected while in Bhubaneswar, around 40 employees of a private hospital were infected.
Meanwhile, chief minister Naveen Patnaik spelt out a nine-point mantra including the need for creating Covid Care Committees at gram panchayats to tackle Covid-19 in the month July.
At a meeting with district collectors and SPs via video conferencing, Patnaik said Covid Care Homes should be set up in every gram panchayats. While asking officials to take care of corona warriors as they are running the extra mile to save people, Patnaik said police and the district administration should show zero tolerance to those who are not wearing masks and violating social distancing norms.