Odisha has earned praise for the measures it has adopted to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The state reported its first coronavirus positive case on Monday (March 16).
This 33-year-old researcher who had landed in Delhi from Italy a few days ago did not show any symptoms of infection at the Delhi airport. He then reached Bhubaneshwar by train on March 12 and three days later, developed symptoms.
The government has also announced an incentive of Rs 15,000 for each returnee from abroad who fills in personal details and travel history with the portal. A helpline (104) has also been started for them, as well as the general public.
The portal was set up on 16 March and over the next 24 hours, 2,131 foreign returnees registered themselves. These included the king of Puri, Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb.
The Gajapati and his family members, who visited several places in the USA, returned to Bhubaneshwar on 15 March .
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was quick to congratulate the Gajapati and his family for registering themselves on the online portal.
Patnaik himself registered the details of his sister, who had come in from abroad, and earned kudos from Prime Minister Modi.
Apart from making it mandatory for all those who have returned or are returning from other countries since 4 March to register themselves on the portal or informing the state authorities, Odisha is also asking them to remain confined to their homes for a fortnight.
Odisha chief secretary A. K. Tripathy said that the locations of all those who register themselves will be tracked and they will receive regular updates and guidance from health officials. This regulation will be in force till 15 April .
The Odisha government has also designated a senior government officer as the spokesperson to disseminate all information on coronavirus-combat measures.
The spokesperson, Subrato Bagchi, has been holding press conferences every day. This step is preventing spread of rumours and fake news.
Bagchi said Thursday that the Italy-returned researcher who tested Covid-19 positive is recovering. The state government has also issued advisories to religious institutions to strictly adhere to social distancing measures and restrict entry of devotees.
“Those institutions which cannot adhere to these guidelines need to ensure that worshippers do not visit those places,” said Bagchi.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been imposed in six districts of the state and all social and religious functions have been cancelled in those districts.
In terms of mobilising infrastructure to contain the spread of the virus, Odisha is ahead of many other states. Isolation wards have been set up in all state-run hospitals, including district hospitals.
The State government has identified 6,323 buildings in as many gram panchayats to serve as emergency medical camps or quarantine facilities. More than 260 buildings have been identified in urban civic bodies for the same purpose.
Budget, mid-segment and some luxurious hotels in state capital Bhubaneshwar have been roped in to provide quarantine facilities for people who may want to pay and stay in them.
Of the 2,131 foreign-returnees who have registered themselves so far, 20 per cent came in from the UAE, nine per cent from the US, five per cent from Saudi Arabia, four per cent each from the UK and Malaysia and about one per cent each from Italy, South Korea and France.
About 37 per cent of the returnees hailed from Khurda district (which includes Bhubaneshwar), and the remaining from Cuttack, Ganjam, Kendrapara and Balasore districts.
Prohibitory orders preventing assembly of five or more people at public spaces or events have been imposed in these districts.
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