Response teams, experts rush to three new COVID hotspots in Odisha

Response teams, experts rush to three new COVID hotspots in Odisha

After 17 new COVID-19 cases were reported in three districts of Odisha, three Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) and experts on Tuesday (April 21) rushed to the new hotspots to contain the spread of the disease.

The state government has formed the response teams after densely-populated northern districts — Balasore, Bhadrak and Jajpur — had seen 23 cases, out of which 17 were reported in the last 48 hours.

While Bhadrak and Balasore have reported eight cases each, seven COVID-19 cases were detected in Jajpur. The total number of novel coronavirus cases from the three districts was just five two days ago, an official pointed out.

Keeping in view the spike in the positive cases from the three districts, Health and Family Welfare Secretary NB Dhal has directed experts from medical colleges, senior health officers and RRTs to oversee containment measures there, an official statement said.

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The department has also assigned specific districts to senior officials. While the director of health services has been rushed to Balasore district, the director of public health will look after Bhadrak and the director of family welfare has been given charge of Jajpur district.

While the SCB Medical College Hospital in Cuttack will provide technical support in Jajpur district, the Fakir Mohan Medical College Hospital has been supporting the measures in Balasore and Bhadrak districts.

Director-General of Police Abhay is also scheduled to visit Balasore and Baripada, the headquarter town of Mayurbhanj district, during the day to review enforcement along the West Bengal border.

The police chiefs’ scheduled visit assumes significance as one-third of the 79 cases in Odisha has links to West Bengal. It is alleged that a large number of people from the neighbouring state have been entering Odisha despite the border being sealed amid the ongoing lockdown.

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Worried over people returning from West Bengal posing a major challenge to the state’s COVID-19 preparedness, the Odisha government has asked all districts to maintain a strict vigil on the movement of people.

The state government has asked all collectors to remain alert as at least 24 of the state’s 74 COVID-19 positive cases have Bengal links. Officials said the Balasore district, which shares the border with West Bengal, has recorded a steep rise in the number of COVID-19 cases since Monday.

The number of coronavirus patients in the district rose to eight from just one. The health and family welfare department has appealed to the people who returned from West Bengal to voluntarily come forward for tests and place themselves in the home or hospital quarantine as a precautionary measure.

Following detection of the new COVID-19 cases, the state government has ordered setting up of containment zones in the affected areas to stop the spread of the infectious virus. So far, the state has identified 15 such containment zones.

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Active surveillance and contact tracing operations have been launched in the containment zones which have been effectively sealed prohibiting people’s movement, sources said.

While Bhadrak that reported eight COVID-19 cases has five containment zones, two containment zones are in Jajpur and one in Balasore. Following fresh cases being detected in the three districts, additional containment zones are now being created, an official said.

Jajpur Collector Ranjan Kumar Das said five more panchayats had been declared as containment zones where extensive sanitisation was being undertaken. He also appealed to the people to inform the administration if anyone with travel history to Kolkata had reached the villages recently.

Besides, Bhubaneswar with 46 COVID-19 cases has three containment zones, while Kendrapara with two patients also has two such zones. One containment zone each have been created in Kalahandi, Sundergarh and Balasore districts.

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