Bhubaneswar, Mar 26 (PTI) As Odisha's COVID-19 tally on Friday surged to 3,39,694 after 234 more people tested positive for the infection, the state government issued fresh guidelines banning large congregations for religious festivals.
The new cases were detected in 23 of the state's 30 districts, with 139 reported from different quarantine centres while the remaining 95 were local contact cases.
Nuapada district recorded the highest of 33 new cases followed by Khurda district of which the state capital Bhubaneswar is a part (32), Cuttack (29) and Bargarh (24).
The state's coronavirus death toll remained at 1,919 as there was no fresh fatality since March 22. This apart, 53 other COVID-19 patients have also died due to comorbidities in the state, he said.
The state currently has 1,313 active COVID-19 cases while 3,36,409 patients have recovered from the highly infectious disease.
Odisha has so far conducted over 89.20 lakh sample tests for COVID-19 including 28,662 on Thursday while the state's positivity rate stands at 3.81 per cent.
Meanwhile, Odisha Chief Secretary in an order said: 'In the interest of health of the general public and for containment of spread of COVID-19, it is hereby directed that congregation for celebration of festivals like 'Good Friday', 'Easter', 'Pana Sankranti', 'Jhamu Jatra', 'Danda Jatra' and 'Sriran Navami' and associated religious and cultural congregation shall not be allowed in public throughout the state.' The order said that the state is passing through a 'critical situation' due to the detection of new variant of SARS-CoV2. It, however, said that religious rituals in churches/temples/ places of worship will continue as usual with limited number of persons with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocol.
The order came into force after the state for the second consecutive day on Friday reported daily COVID-19 cases of above 200. The order also mentioned that people usually congregate in large numbers during such festivals in the state and adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour does not become maintainable. Apart from this, such congregations have a potential to cause spread of the virus, it said.
Considering local conditions, Collectors and Municipal Commissioners may impose appropriate restrictions on entry of devotees into churches, temples, religious places, places of worship and in the celebrations in churches, temples, religious places and places of worship, it said.
The Collectors and Municipal Commissioners may decide the number of persons to attend any such religious ritual, festival in their respective jurisdictions with strict adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour and norms.
The order said that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had earlier advised the states to consider imposing local restrictions in public observance of festivals and limit/ do away with mass gatherings in public observance of festivals like Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Bihu, Easter and Eid-ul- Fitr. PTI AAM RG RG