(Eds: With fresh inputs) Bhubaneswar, Oct 8 (PTI) Odisha's COVID-19 tally mounted to 2,44,142 on Thursday as 3,144 more people, including a ruling BJD MLA, tested positive for the infection, while 16 fresh fatalities pushed the state's coronavirus death toll to 974, a health official said.
The state also registered recovery of 3,312 patients taking the total number of cured people to 2,16,984, which is 88.87 per cent of the states caseload.
The state has been witnessing more recoveries than new cases every day since September 28, the official said.
The Odisha government decided to settle claims of those who died while on duty.
COVID warriors Khurda district, under which Bhubaneswar falls, reported the highest number of new cases at 562, followed by Cuttack (243), Sambalpur (136) and Angul (128).
BJD leader Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, the legislator of Mahakalpada seat in Kendrapara district, is among the new patients, the official said.
Four fatalities each were reported in Khurda and Balasore districts, two each in Kalahandi, Mayurbhanj and Nayagarh and one each in Jharsuguda and Sundargarh districts.
Fifty-three coronavirus patients have succumbed to other ailments so far, the official said.
Odisha now has 26,131 active coronavirus cases.
The state has so far tested 36.19 lakh samples for COVID-19, including 49,909 on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in a bid to instil a sense of confidence and security among the thousands of frontline workers engaged in COVID-19 management in the state, the state government decided to settle claims of those who died while on duty, a notification issued by the health and family welfare department said.
The compensation to the families of the COVID-18 'martyrs' will be given from the Chief Ministers Relief Fund (CMRF), it said adding that Collectors of respective districts have been authorised to settle the claims.
The state government has been according 'martyr' status to frontline workers who die while on duty. They include doctors, nurses, policemen, teachers and others.
The Odisha government said that the Centre has accepted only one out of 60 cases for payment of compensation to COVID-19 martyrs.
The government of India had earlier announced Rs 50 lakh each as ex-gratia for the family of the frontline victims of the COVID-19.
'Since the state government's proposal for settlement of the claims of COVID Warriors is pending with the Centre, the beneficiary of the dues has been asked to submit an undertaking to return the entire amount if it is borne by the Union government in future in order to avoid double payment,' the notification said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed happiness that Ganjam district has earned praise from the University of Oxford for its successful model of COVID-19 infection prevention, an official statement said.
The district excelled in COVID-19 management by empowering sarpanches, forming committees in villages for intensive screening and by ensuring proper healthcare, it said. PTI AAM NN NN