COVID-19: Odisha suspends inter-state bus services

Bhubaneswar, Mar 22 (PTI) The Odisha government announced an indefinite suspension of inter-state bus services as lockdown in five districts and eight towns began on Sunday in view of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

The state government's chief spokesperson on COVID-19, Subroto Bagchi said all inter-state bus services will remain suspended after 11 am on March 23.

'There will be, however, no restriction on the movement of permitted goods, including coal and other minerals,' Bagchi, also the chairman of Odisha Skill Development Authority (OSDA), said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday had announced a lockdown in Khurda, Ganjam, Cuttack, Kendrapara and Angul districts and Puri, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Balasore, Rourkela, Bhadrak, Jajpur Road and Jajpur towns till March 29.

He said out of the 3,200 foreign returnees to Odisha, more than 70 per cent hailed from these districts and towns.

Patnaik said the next week will be crucial in the fight against the spread of coronavirus.

'I request you to stay at home. You and your family will remain safe if you stay at home. Come, let us win this war,' he tweeted.

Bagchi said grocery stores, petrol pumps, pharmacies, banks, ATMs, hospitals and other essential services will remain open during the lockdown.

He said 76 samples were sent for test till Sunday noon and barring the two detected positive cases, all the remaining were found negative.

The condition of the two COVID-19 patients is stated to be stable, he said.

The state government has classified its departments as 'critical', 'partially-critical' and 'non-critical' which will function accordingly during the lockdown, the officials said.

Meanwhile, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Commissioner of Police Sudhansu Sarangi said the youngsters should refrain from roaming around on motorbikes during the lockdown.

On the other hand, police have registered a suo motu case at Purighat police station in Cuttack against a person for not remaining in home isolation, an official said. PTI SKN ACD SNE SNE