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COVID-19: 'Near total' lockdown in 5 districts, 8 towns of Odisha

Press Trust of India  |  Bhubaneswar 

A day before the nationwide "janata curfew", the Odisha government announced a "near-total" shutdown on Saturday in five districts and eight prominent towns for eight days to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It will come into effect from Sunday morning, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in a video message.

The districts that would observe the near-total lockdown were Khurda, Ganjam, Cuttack, Kendrapara and Angul, while the towns were Puri, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Balasore, Rourkela, Bhadrak, Jajpur Road and Jajpur, he added.

Of the 3,200 foreign returnees to the state, more than 70 per cent hailed from these districts and towns, Patnaik said.

The two positive COVID-19 cases detected so far in the state were reported from Bhubaneswar, which is in Khurda district.

"The 4.5 crore people of the state are my family. Please cooperate to defeat the virus. I have asked the police to take stern action against violators," Patnaik said.

In a directive, he said bus, train and air services will remain in operation and the shops selling grocery items, vegetable, fish, egg and chicken will be open.

Besides, petrol pumps, medicine stores, hospitals, banks, ATMs, police, fire and other emergency services will also be in operation.

Patnaik said his government had suspended the distribution of social security pensions and public distribution system in the five districts and eight towns for the time being.

"The only cure is prevention. It is only if you go out that you may bring the virus to your home and your neighbourhood," he said, adding that China and certain other countries were reporting a lesser number of COVID-19 cases at present.

"In the first phase, we are going for a near-complete lockdown in all these areas from 7 am of Sunday till 9 pm of March 29. I humbly request you to stay at home and come out only for basic services," the chief minister said.

Subrat Bagchi, the chief spokesperson of the state government on COVID-19, said the lockdown in Odisha will be over and above the "janata curfew" announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from 7 am to 9 pm on Sunday.

"By all reckoning, by all means, a systematic, the largest single lockdown for health reasons in independent India has been announced by the chief minister.... It seeks to knock down the deadly novel coronavirus," he added.

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

First Published: Sat, March 21 2020. 22:28 IST