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Worries Grow in Odisha After 3rd Coronavirus Case; State Plans 1,000-bed Hospital

Bhubaneswar: The authorities in Odisha have vamped up measures to prevent community transmission of coronavirus after the state recorded its third positive case on Thursday. Officials have tightened the implementation of the 21-day lockdown which came into effect across the country on March 25.

The state health department announced late on Thursday evening that a person from Bhubaneswar had tested positive for the virus. The statement came a week after two infected people were identified – one on March 15 and the second on March 19. Subrato Bagchi, chief spokesperson of the state’s Information, Education & Communication (IEC) cell for COVID-19, had said, “Both the patients are recovering well.”

He said, “About 84,000 people have returned to Odisha from other states in the past few days, including those with a high incidence of infection. They have been asked to stay in self-quarantine. A lockdown is already in force across the state and measures are being taken to prevent an outbreak.”

Anticipating a rise in the number of positive cases in the next two weeks, the state government on Thursday signed MoUs with two private hospitals-cum-medical colleges in Bhubaneswar to set up a 1,000-bed treatment centre of COVID-19 patients.

“The COVID-19 medical facility will be ready by the next week, and there will be adequate facilities available to ensure effective treatment of people suffering from the virus disease. There will be ICUs in both the medical facilities,” said state chief secretary Asit Tripathy after the government signed two tripartite MoU with top officials of SUM Hospital and Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS).

The state health department has started recruiting doctors, nurses and paramedical staff in preparation for a major coronavirus-related crisis by the end of April. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is personally monitoring efforts to contain the crisis, has asked senior bureaucrats to put undertake all necessary measures to ensure the state does not suffer from the contagion outbreak.

In video messages, Patnaik has urged people of the state to stay indoors during the lockdown period and also thanked health workers for their services. He has also ordered for four months’ advance salary to be paid to all government medical professionals in April.

The Odisha Chief Minister has written letters to the chief state officials of several states asking them to ensure the safety of the people from Odisha living or stranded in various locations during the lockdown. Patnaik said the cost of taking care of Odia people in other states during the crisis period would be borne by the state government, adding that people from other states would be well taken care of.

On Thursday, he ordered a relaxation in the lockdown rules for three hours in the morning to ensure distribution of newspapers at people’s homes across the state.

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Source: News18