Odisha reports 120 new COVID-19 cases; tally rises to

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3,38,719 (Eds: Adding recoveries & details) Bhubaneswar, Mar 20 (PTI) Odisha for the second consecutive day on Saturday reported 100 plus new COVID-19 cases, pushing the tally to 3,38,719, a health department official said.

The state which reported 110 new cases on Friday, registered 120 new cases on Saturday and the trend is likely to go up, the official said.

However, the state government on Saturday said it has not yet taken any decision on imposing strict measures like night curfew or lockdown.

Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Jena said that 'No decision has been taken on imposing night curfew in Odisha'.

The SRC urged people to maintain COVID appropriate behaviour in order to escape from the second wave of the pandemic. He, however, said that the district and municipal authorities have been told to enforce the guidelines.

Of the 120 new cases, 71 were reported from quarantine centres, while 49 were 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 districts have turned 'coronavirus free' as no active case exists there, the health department official 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 782 active COVID-19 cases, which is 0.20 per cent of the caseload.

The state also registered recovery of 72 patients taking the total number of cured persons to 3,36,066, which is 99.21 per cent of the caseload.

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.

Additional Chief secretary, health and family welfare department, 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. PTI AAM RG RG