Odisha logs 71 new COVID-19 cases; Patnaik sets 'zero infection' target

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(Eds: Adding latest inputs) Bhubaneswar, Mar 14 (PTI) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday set a target of 'zero infection' even as the COVID-19 tally in the state mounted to 3,38,192 with 71 fresh cases.

In a video message, Patnaik appealed to the people to follow health safety protocols so that the state can achieve the goal and requested them not to be complacent with the daily number of new coronavirus cases remaining below 100.

'With your support, the COVID situation is currently under control in Odisha. The World Health Organization (WHO) has praised our initiatives to fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Although the single-day spike in coronavirus cases is below 100, zero infection is our target,' he said.

The COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh has worsened due to a significant rise in the number of new cases, he said.

'Normalcy has returned to Odisha. None of us wants lockdown to return. Wearing face masks is a must when going outside and hand washing should be practised after returning home. One must follow the social distancing norms,' the chief minister said.

Patnaik also sought people's cooperation in the ongoing vaccination programme.

'We have lost many lives in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. We will never let their sacrifice go in vain... All of us should be self-conscious,' he said.

Patnaik also said that he has already asked the civil administration and police to ensure strict implementation of the COVID-19 guidelines issued by both the state and the Centre.

Of the new cases, 43 were reported from quarantine centres and 28 detected during contact tracing.

Khurda district reported the highest number of fresh cases at 11, followed by Jajpur (seven) and Mayurbhanj (six).

The coronavirus death toll remained at 1,918 as no new fatality due to the infection was reported since Saturday.

Fifty-three other COVID-19 patients have also died due to comorbidities.

Odisha now has 652 active cases.

During the day, 91 patients recovered, taking the total number of cured persons to 3,35,660.

The state has so far conducted over 86.21 lakh sample tests for COVID-19, including 23,1773 on Saturday and the positivity rate now stands at 3.92 per cent.

Meanwhile, the district administration of Ganjam, which has recorded at least 248 deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, launched the mass screening of the train passengers at the railway station in Berhampur.

'The health screening is done for the passengers coming from other states at the railway station,' said Ganjam collector Vijay Amrut Kulange.

The measures have been taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the state, he said.

Ganjam was one of the worst-affected districts in the state as its COVID-19 cases surged, following the return of the migrant workers from states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. PTI AAM SBN BDC SOM SOM