Odisha reports record 4,445 new COVID-19 cases, inter-state bus services suspended

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Bhubaneswar, Apr 19 (PTI) Odisha on Monday reported the highest ever single-day rise in COVID-19 cases as 4,445 people tested positive, pushing the coastal state's tally to over 3.72 lakh, a senior official said.

Four more people died in the state, following which the toll rose to 1,948, he said.

The previous daily high was recorded on September 25 last year when the state reported 4,356 cases.

All 30 districts in the state reported new cases, the official said.

Of the new cases, 2,574 were reported from the quarantine centres, while the rest 1,871 were local contacts.

Sundergarh, bordering Chhattisgarh, reported the highest 722 new cases.

Khurda reported 587 cases, followed by Nuapada (437), Kalahandi (273), Cuttack (251) and Sambalpur (241). As many as 13 districts have reported over 100 cases, he said.

Leader of Opposition PK Naik of the BJP tested positive for COVID-19. He hails from Kalahandi.

Two of the latest deaths were reported from Sundergarh, while Jharsuguda and Keonjhar reported one death each.

There are 24,568 active cases in the state at present, while 3.46 lakh patients have recovered so far.

There are only 6,905 beds in 48 hospitals across the state, while the number of active cases crossed the 24,000- mark, a health official said.

The government has decided to increase the number of beds by four-fold and make oxygen support available for more beds, he said.

Efforts are also underway to increase the number of ICU beds, he added.

There are only 541 ICU beds and 248 ventilator beds in the state, the official said, adding that the government is working to add 400 more ventilators.

Seven districts that have more than 1,000 active cases have been categorised as 'Red Zone'. These districts are Sundergarh (4,375), Khurda (3,841), Sambalpur (1,408), Nuapadda (1,377), Cuttack (1,363), Kalahandi (1,255) and Bargarh (1,236).

Meanwhile, COVID-negative reports and complete vaccination certificates were made mandatory for people visiting the Jagannath Temple in Puri from other states.

Fifty persons associated with the 12th century shrine, including 22 servitors, have tested positive for the infection, sources in the temple administration said.

Besides, 19 people from Puri visited the Kumbh Mela.

Of them, 17 have so far returned to the holy town, officials said.

Fifteen of those who returned underwent RT-PCR tests and two were found to be COVID-negative, while reports of 13 others were awaited, he said.

In the wake of the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, the state government suspended permission for all interstate passenger buses. However, the intra-state bus services will continue, Transport Minister Padmanabh Behera said.

The government also issued a new SOP for passenger buses operating within the state. While buses have been allowed to operate with full seating capacity, standing of passengers will not be permitted, Behera said.

Two passengers will be allowed in auto-rickshaws and taxis, he said. PTI AAM SOM SOM