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9 more districts in Odisha to be placed under lockdown

Press Trust of India  |  Bhubaneswar 

The Odisha government intensified its drive against the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic on Monday as it put around 3 crore of the state's 4.5-crore population under a lockdown by extending the restrictions from five to 14 districts.

The government announced the suspension of all public transport services, including buses, taxis and autorickshaws, across the state from 11 am on Tuesday. It had already imposed restrictions on the movement of private vehicles from March 22-29, the period of the lockdown.

The city bus services in all urban local bodies, including the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, will also be suspended from Tuesday. The interstate bus services were stopped at 11 am.

However, essential services and goods transportation will continue as usual, a notification issued by the Health and Family Welfare Department said.

The state government had on Sunday put under lockdown the five most-populated districts -- Khurda, Cuttack, Ganjam, Kendrapara and Angul.

Now, it has also imposed restrictions in the districts of Puri, Nayagarh, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore, Dhenkanal, Sambalpur and Jharsuguda. Areas under the Rourkela Municipal Corporation, including the steel township, are also under lockdown.

With this, the total number of districts under lockdown increased to 14, said Subroto Bagchi, the state government's chief spokesperson on COVID-19.

Bagchi said the nine districts would come under the purview of the lockdown from 7 am on Tuesday till 9 pm on Sunday.

While the first day of the lockdown, which coincided with the nationwide 'Janata curfew' on Sunday, drew an overwhelming response, several people were seen venturing out on the second day in different places, including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Balasore and Berhampur.

Bagchi said people must confine themselves to their houses in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The spokesperson said 85 samples were tested till 2 pm on Monday and two were found positive for COVID-19.

The health conditions of both the COVID-19 patients are stable, Bagchi said, adding that 3,667 foreign returnees had registered their names in the official portal so far.

"It's reported that 56 persons had contact with one of the patients," he said. "Communication has been made with 53 people, while effort is on to trace the remaining three. Nine monitoring teams are working for the purpose."

At present, 35 people are in hospital isolation, Bagchi added.

The state government has already set up 7,276 temporary health camps in all the 6,798 gram panchayats, apart from the existing healthcare facilities, according to the spokesperson.

As some of the persons supposed to be in home quarantine were found to be venturing out, the government has decided to paste stickers outside their homes to ensure community monitoring, Bagchi said.

Police have registered separate criminal cases against four people for violating quarantine guidelines laid down by the state government in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

It is mandated that no media/press is allowed near the house and no one is allowed to cover any such case in press/media or no one should give personal details of persons quarantined in public domain, a notification issued by the state government said.

The list of quarantined homes is to be shared with the local police stations for maintaining a strict vigil on these houses, the notification said.

Meanwhile, a man was arrested in Bhadrak for opening his cement shop despite restrictions.

As people came out of their houses large numbers during restrictions, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Police Commission S B Sarangi said police would be forced to take actions, such as arrest or penalty.

In another related development, the state government has notified that all non-essential central government offices, and those of the central public sector undertakings, banks and insurance companies, among others, would operate with up to 10 per cent of their staff.

The state government has issued a direction to the banks asking them to operate their branches from 10 am to 2 pm in the 14 districts put under lockdown. The banks will not engage less than two staff and more than seven people in a branch.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 23 2020. 20:12 IST