Odisha reports 120 new COVID-19 cases, tally at 3,38,719

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Bhubaneswar, Mar 20 (PTI) Odisha's COVID-19 tally rose to 3,38,719 on Saturday as 120 more people tested positive for the infection, a health department official said.

Of the new cases, 71 were reported from quarantine centres, while 49 detected during contact tracing.

Cuttack district reported the highest number of fresh cases at 20, followed by Sundargarh (16), Mayurbhanj (14) and Khurda (13).

Seventeen of the 20 new cases from Cuttack are students and staffers of a private school.

'Several students of the school are coming from other states. Guest teachers also visit this educational institution. There is a possibility that the 17 fresh patients might have infected with the new variant of COVID-19,' Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) health officer Satyabrata Sahu said.

Efforts are being made to trace their contacts and samples of the 17 people have been sent to Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) in Bhubaneswar for further testing, he said.

'They have been quarantined in the school's hostel,' the CMC officer said.

Twenty-five others from a college in Cuttack had tested positive for the disease in the last two days.

Meanwhile, Gajapati, Malkangiri and Boudh have turned 'coronavirus free' as no active case exists there, he said.

The death toll remained at 1,918 as no fresh fatality due to the infection has been reported since March 13, he said.

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

Odisha now has 754 active cases, and 3,35,994 patients have recovered from the disease.

The state has so far conducted over 87.62 lakh samples for COVID-19, including 25,918 on Friday, and the positivity rate now stands at 3.88 per cent.

The Odisha government has decided to conduct more than 10,000 RT-PCR tests a day, the official said.

The health department's additional chief secretary PK Mohapatra has directed district authorities and municipal commissioners to increase the number of these tests.

Arrangements for RT-PCR tests have been made in 26 laboratories, including 10 private units.

As this specific testing facility is not available in all parts of the state, the healthcare workers have been asked to send samples to the RMRC from Boudh, Jajpur, Sonepur, Puri and Nayagarh.

Similarly, the authorities have directed to send samples to the SCB Medical College from Angul, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Keonjhar and Sundargarh for the same. PTI AAM SBN BDC BDC