Odisha logs 100 plus new COVID cases after 40 days; govt restricts Holi celebrations

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(Eds: With fresh inputs) Bhubaneswar, Mar 19 (PTI) With Odisha registering 100 plus new COVID-19 cases after a gap of 40 days, the state government on Friday banned Holi celebrations in public places this year, an official said.

The order came in the wake of a spike in COVID-19 cases in Cuttack and Khurda districts. The state on Friday reported 110 new positive cases taking the tally to 3,38,599, a health department official said.

The Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) in an order said, 'Holi on March 28 and March 29 and related rituals shall not be observed in public places throughout the state.' People may celebrate Holi with family members in their houses but not in any public places including public roads, SRC P K Jena said in the order.

The government has also put restrictions on 'Dola' festival where people across the state take Lord Krishna and Devi Radha in palanquin called 'Biman'.

'Congregations for celebration of Dola Jatra and associated religious and cultural congregations shall not be allowed in public places throughout the state. Religious rituals in temples will continue as usual with strict adherence to Covid protocols,' the order said.

However, it said that considering local conditions, District Magistsrates-cum-Collectors and Municipal Commissioners may impose appropriate restriction on entry of devotees into temples and celebrations in temples and religious places.

The order also said that the Dola festival may be allowed with an appropriate number of participants as decided by the district or municipal authorities in their respective jurisdictions with strict adherence to Covid safety norms.

The 110 new positive cases were reported from 22 of the 30 districts of Odisha, a health department official said.

He said that 64 cases reported from quarantine centres and the remaining 46 are local contact cases.

Cuttack district reported the highest of 20 cases of which 13 were from a private college hostel. The Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) has closed the college for 10 days.

The official said that the state had last reported more than 100 new cases on February 9 when 105 people tested positive for the infection. Since then, the number of daily new case was in double digits.

The state's coronavirus death toll remained at 1,918 as no fresh fatality has been reported since March 13. This apart, 53 other COVID-19 patients have died in the state due to comorbidities.

During the day, Odisha also registered the recovery of 71 coronavirus patients taking the total number of cured people to 3,35,994, which is 99.23 per cent of the caseload.

The state currently has 634 active cases.

Odisha has so far tested over 87.36 lakh samples for COVID-19 including 24,572 on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the General Administration & Public Grievance Department in a separate notification asked all government employees to wear masks while working and hold meetings over virtual mode until further orders. PTI AAM NN NN