Patnaik asks police to launch 10-day drive to strictly enforce COVID-19 protocol

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(Adding information) Bhubaneswar, Apr 6 (PTI) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Tuesday reviewed the situation arising out of the spike in the number of coronavirus cases in the state, particularly in the western districts adjoining Chhatisgarh and asked the state police to launch a 10-day special drive to strictly enforce the COVID-19 safety protocol, officials said.

Patnaik reviewed the situation in the state arising out of the increasing incidence of novel coronavirus two days ahead of the scheduled one-to-one meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

There is no place for complacency as valuable lives are at stake, he said and instructed the director general of police to deploy police personnel in large numbers across the state during the 10-day drive to strictly enforce the COVID safety protocol.

The new wave of COVID-19 virus seems to be more infectious and might create a devastating situation if we do not take it seriously Patnaik said cautioning the officials and stressed on strict enforcement of COVID 19 norms at the institutional and individual levels.

The chief minister also appealed to the people to be alert, follow the COVID-19 norms and cooperate with the governments enforcement machinery, the officials said.

There is resurgence of COVID-19 virus across the globe and Many states of our country are also witnessing spikes in the proliferation of the disease. We have been observing an increasing trend in the virus spread in recent weeks within Odisha as well, Patnaik said.

An on-the-spot assessment by senior officers will help in tackling the spread of the infection, he said.

Patnaik asked the chief secretary and the additional chief secretary to the department of health and family welfare to rush senior officials to the western Odisha districts.

Make an on the ground assessment and take suitable urgent action, Patnaik told them.

Odisha, he said, had been able to successfully control the first wave of COVID-19 in spite of a challenging situation when the nature of the virus was unknown. The state will now have to reactivate the protocol and ensure that the entire government machinery works with vigour and enthusiasm to control the pandemic.

We are now battle hardened and I am sure we will be able to successfully tackle this resurgence of the virus infection, the chief minister said and asked the health department to immediately redeploy doctors, paramedics, laboratory technicians in the affected districts to strengthen manpower to check the spread of the infection.

Patnaik said the hospital should have sufficient capacity to take care of the increasing COVID-19 cases. There should be adequate number of ambulances equipped with oxygen supply for use in the highly affected areas and proper monitoring systems should be in place to ensure that emergency calls are addressed urgently and with sensitivity.

There should be no complains about non-responsiveness of ambulances or lack of beds in the hospitals, he was quoted by the officials to have categorically told the senior officers who attended the review meeting held on online mode.

He asked the administration to strictly enforce the COVID-19 protocol to check the spread of the virus and the DGP to deploy large number of police personnel across the state to strictly enforce it during the 10-day drive.

He asked the department of information and public relations to launch a new awareness campaign to sensitise people so that they follow norms of using face masks and observe hand hygiene and social distancing.

He also instructed the district magistrates and collectors to involve all sections of the society, including members of the panchayati raj institution, Mission Shakti groups (of women) and ensure awareness and enforcement of the measures.

Soon after the direction by the chief minister, DGP Abhay said that the 10-day special enforcement drive will start on Wednesday and continue till April 16 to tackle the spread of the disease among the people.

In a letter to SPs, DCPs, SRP, Cuttack and SRP, Rourkela, he said that special emphasis will be put on wearing masks and maintaining social distance during the drive.

Awareness generation of COVID-19 appropriate measures should go side by side with enforcement, the letter stated.

The DGP also directed the officers to submit their daily report to ADG (law and order) about the outcome of the drive.

The government steps come in the heels of a sharp increase in the daily coronavirus cases in the state in the span of a fortnight. While the number of new cases reported on March 6 was just 54, it has surged to 588 on April 6 pushing the tally to 3,43,856.

Meanwhile, the district administration in the pilgrim town of Puri where the Shree Jagannath Temple attracts lakhs of visitors, on Tuesday made it mandatory for travellers from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Punjab and Kerala to produce COVID-19 negative certificates at the railway station and bus stands in view of the spiraling cases, an official said.

Certificates of two vaccine doses will also be accepted, Puri district magistrate-cum-collector Samarth Verma said.

'We have made a negative RT-PCR test report (72 hours before the start of journey) mandatory for people coming to Puri from the five states mentioned. The final vaccination certification will also be verified,' he said.

Special arrangements have been made at the railway station for testing passengers for COVID-19 from the five states, he said adding those who test positive will either undergo home isolation or institutional quarantine.

On Tuesday Khurda district reported the highest number of 105 new infections including 101 cases alone from Bhubaneswar city, followed by Sundergarh (84), Kalahandi (64), Jharsuguda (31), Cuttack (30) and Nuapada (29).

The death toll remained unchanged at 1,922 as no fresh fatalities have been reported since Sunday.

Odisha now has 3,464 active cases, which is one per cent of the total caseload while the states positivity rate is 3.73 per cent.

The state during the day registered 266 recoveries taking the total number of cured persons to 3,38,416, which is 98.41 per cent of the caseload.

It has so far conducted over 92.13 lakh sample tests, including 25,005 on Monday, the official said.

Meanwhile amid reports of vaccine shortage in the state, health and family welfare director Bijay Panigrahi said 3.47 lakh doses of Covishield are in stock and Odisha will receive another 3.49 lakh doses.

'However, the quantity is inadequate and will last for only three days. We will again write to the Centre for adequate supply of vaccine for uninterrupted inoculation,' he said.

Keeping in view the rising trend of coronavirus cases, the state government on Tuesday issued a revised quarantine policy for health care providers working in COVID- 19 facilities.

In a letter to superintendents of government medical college and hospitals and CDM and PHOs, additional chief secretary to the health and family welfare department P K Mohapatra said as per the amended quarantine policy for health care providers in COVID-19 facilities there is no need to place fully vaccinated (two weeks after second dose) service providers in quarantine after 15 days duty in a COVID facility.

There will be no need to keep a full reserve batch to replace the deployed batch as per the old quarantine policy, the letter added.

Official sources said that as many as 1,73,307 people were vaccinated on Tuesday. PTI AAM KK KK KK