Can't return to lockdown era, need renewed efforts to contain COVID spread: Patnaik

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Bhubaneswar, Mar 17 (PTI) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday said that the spread of COVID-19 needs to be contained through renewed efforts of awareness and enforcement, and indicated that the state is not ready to go back to the lockdown regime.

Participating in a virtual conference chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the pandemic situation in the country, Patnaik said that achieving herd immunity will be a long process in India as it has a huge population.

A rise in COVID-19 cases has been witnessed recently in parts of the country.

'We cannot go back to the era of lockdowns. However, at the same time, we need to ensure that the virus spread is also contained through renewed efforts in awareness and enforcement,' Patnaik said at the prime minister's conference with chief ministers.

The period of this crisis is long and people have become fatigued and complacent in following COVID-19 health protocols, he said.

'We need to be careful as multiple surges of COVID spread is the reality in many countries and is witnessed in many states in India as well,' the chief minister said.

Because of the pandemic, families and societies across the world have been affected in terms of health crisis, economy and livelihoods, Patnaik said.

He, however, pointed out that Odisha being a state prone to natural calamities, its machinery is well prepared to deal with crisis situations.

The state has so far reported 3,38,405 COVID-19 cases.

While 99.25 per cent of the patients have recovered, 1,918 people died.

Patnaik thanked the people of Odisha for their cooperation which enabled the government to control the pandemic and limit its damage to a large extent.

'Our health staff and administrative system have been working continuously throughout this crisis period,' he said.

The state will continue to extend all support to the Union government in the fight against coronavirus, he said at the meeting.

The chief minister also thanked the scientific community for developing vaccines at such short notice.

'It's a matter of pride for us that India is leading in vaccine manufacture. India needs to involve the private sector in expediting the vaccination programme,' Patnaik said.

He said the rollout of the vaccine has been helpful in providing hope to citizens that the end of the pandemic is nearing. PTI AAM NN NN