Coronavirus | Odisha to ramp up testing in coming weeks

A large number of Odia people working in other States are likely to return soon

Seven new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases were detected in Odisha taking the total to 118 on Tuesday when Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ordered for ramping up testing as a large number of Odia people working in other States are likely to return in the coming weeks.

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Four of the seven cases were detected in Rourkela in the Sundargarh district and three in the Bhadrak district. While the Bhadrak cases had West Bengal link, the Rourkela cases were contacts of a person who tested positive earlier, the State Health department said.

Of the 118 cases, 79 patients were under treatment at COVID-19 hospitals, 38 had recovered after treatment and one had died while 6,880 persons were under quarantine.

Mr. Patnaik directed the authorities to increase the testing capacity to 15,000 samples per day to cope with the emerging situation when Odias would return to their villages soon.

In a video-conference with senior bureaucrats who have been appointed as observer for one district each to control the situation, Mr. Patnaik gave instructions for utilisation of the ICMR-approved private laboratories apart from the laboratories already working in government institutions.

In fact, the State government has been increasing the testing capacity during the past six weeks. While only 58 samples were tested between March 16 and 22, 14,939 samples were tested between April 21 and 27. A total of 26,687 samples were tested by midnight on Monday.

Mr. Patnaik also issued instructions for ensuring food security for the Odia workers by giving them subsidised foodgrains under the PDS even if they did not have the requisite card.

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Directing the authorities to keep the returnees in the quarantine facilities at the gram panchayat level, Mr. Patnaik also directed the authorities to improve facilities at the grassroots level.

He ordered the work under the MGNREGA be increased from the five lakh man-days to 10 lakh man-days by next week. He also directed the Forest department to take up labour-intensive works and give special attention to the livelihoods of those engaged in tendu leaf plucking.

State Industries Secretary Hemant Sharma, who is in-charge of procurement of beds, medicines, ventilators and personal protection equipment for doctors and paramedical staff, told presspersons the State government is in the process of acquiring sophisticated testing equipment to be installed in the government-run medical colleges in Koraput, Balangir and Balasore soon.

All the frontline workers and other government officials are working under the leadership of the Chief Minister with an action plan ready for the next six months to protect the State, Mr. Sharma said.

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