With a surge in COVID-19 fatalities and infections in Odisha in June, the state government Tuesday announced weekend shutdown in 10 districts with high active caseloads, to prevent crowding during the easing of lockdown. The districts are: Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Cuttack, Jajpur, Jagatsinghpur, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Jharsuguda.
They all have more than 50 active coronavirus cases, Chief Secretary A K Tripathy told reporters here, adding they have been categorised as Zone-1 and the shutdown will be applicable on Saturdays and Sundays.
A day after the Centre unveiled unlock 2.0 guidelines, he said that schools, colleges, coaching centres and other educational institutions in the state will remain shut for teaching purposes till August 31. However, theatres, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, bars, auditoriums and assembly halls will be closed till July 31, Tripathy said.
Local authorities such as district collectors and municipal bodies have been empowered to impose further restrictions like lockdown beyond weekend shutdown in the 10 districts named above. The state has 30 districts.
Local authorities have also been empowered to restrict intra-district movement of private or public vehicles in these 10 districts.
The decision to continue with the weekend shutdown as a weapon to combat the coronavirus pandemic seems to have been prompted by over a three-fold increase in COVID-19 positive cases in June, as compared to May.
While the number of cases stood at 1,948 and deaths at seven by the end of May, positive cases have now climbed to 7,065 and fatalities to 25.
Essential activities of police, fire service, medical care, petrol pumps, chemist shops, electricity and water supply, agriculture and IT sectors will be allowed during the weekend shutdown to facilitate economic operations, he said.
Odisha's COVID-19 fatality rate is among the lowest in the country at 0.35 per cent, Tripathy said, adding the national average is 2.98 per cent. The COVID-19 discharge rate in the state is highest in the country as patients are getting cured faster because of the massive physical infrastructure put in place in the state well in advance, he said.