Odisha Govt’s Lockdown Dilemma: Extension Or No Extension In Bhubaneswar & Cuttack?

Bhubaneswar: Come August 1, will Odisha do away with night curfew and relax the ongoing lockdown restrictions in Ganjam, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack city, which have witnessed a spike in COVID-19 cases in the last fortnight?

This has become a subject of widespread speculation here even as the Ministry of Home Affairs, while announcing lockdown guidelines on Wednesday, removed restrictions on the movement of individuals during the night and allowed the opening of yoga institutes and gymnasiums from August 5. It has allowed lockdown in containment zones to continue till August 31.

While a section within the state government feels lockdown should continue, there are others who are batting for striking a balance between fighting the pandemic and addressing increasing livelihood concerns. There is no final word yet from the Naveen Patnaik dispensation, but well-placed sources indicated likely continuance of lockdown at least in Ganjam, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack city.

For the last fortnight, the Odisha government has been strictly implementing night curfew and lockdown restrictions to check the spread of COVID-19. Modifying its June 30 order, the government on July 16 enforced complete lockdown in Khurda, Ganjam, Cuttack and Jajpur districts and Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) from 9 pm of
July 17 till July 31 midnight.

Justifying the decision, Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy had said 66 per cent of the caseload of the state was concentrated in these districts and 90 per cent of cases from Sundargarh were reported from areas under RMC.

The government seems hard-pressed as the COVID-19 tally in Odisha has breached 30000-mark, touching 30378.

As on Thursday, Ganjam had registered nearly a third of the cases: the highest 9996. Those supporting the extension of lockdown say the southern district, Khurda (3986), Cuttack (2043) and Jajpur (1125) together now constitute 56 per cent of the total cases in the state, which is a drop of 10 per cent compared to a fortnight back.

The surge in COVID-19 cases has, however, continued in Ganjam, Bhubaneswar (Khurda) and Cuttack city (Cuttack) while the other areas under complete lockdown might have fared better, which again is linked to testing.

Since the latest round of lockdown, Ganjam district has reported 4741 new positive cases. The day-wise cases between July 18 and 29 are 182, 329, 225, 371, 540, 732, 560, 484, 491, 332, 245, and 250. This means almost half of the new cases have been detected post-July 17 lockdown. The district now has 2770 active cases.

On July 24, Ganjam Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange told the media there was no reason to panic as the cases were rising due to intensive door-to-door screening. “We are hoping for the number to come down in a week or so,” he said. In last one week, 30 RED zone villages have become GREEN, he added.

Also Read: 81% Villages In Odisha’s Ganjam Under Green Zone Despite COVID-19 Cases Surge

A similar trend has been witnessed in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

On June 30, Bhubaneswar had 320 positive cases and by July 16, the number mounted to 919 with an addition of 599 more patients. Between July 17 and July 30, the capital city reported another 1688 new cases, taking the affected tally to 2607. Bhubaneswar
now has 1251 active cases.

The rise in COVID-19 cases can be attributed to active surveillance and increased number of testing. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation is conducting 1,336 COVID-19 tests a day and planning to augment it to 1400. On a positive note, the city saw 123 recoveries as against 105 fresh cases on July 30.

Also Read: 969 COVID-19 Cases In Bhubaneswar In Last 10 Days

In Cuttack, the COVID-19 tally has touched 884. On July 26, Cuttack Municipal Corporation Commissioner Ananya Das said 264 of the total 671 COVID-19 cases in the Millennium City were detected between July 19 and July 24 and almost 71 per cent of them are close contacts of previous COVID-19 patients. Since then, the city has reported 213 more cases. Since the lockdown, the city has reported 477 cases, which is
more than half of the total cases. Besides, three areas are under containment zone restrictions.

Also Read: Cuttack City Reports 264 Of 671 COVID-19 Cases In One Week 

Cuttack city has 547 active cases. This means the twin cities have 1798 active cases. This has necessitated the question: is another lockdown necessary to arrest the rising cases? Are we in for another strict stay at home order?

According to Vice-Chancellor of SOA, Dr Ashok Mohapatra, 1.4% of people who have undergone serological tests in Odisha have been found with antibodies of COVID-19. “The situation, however, seems to be stable in the state. Under the Unlock 3.0 guidelines, I don’t think night curfew is of any use,” he added.

However, a government doctor suggested an extension in the lockdown to help the government agencies track, test and treat people with COVID-19 symptoms to contain the spread of the virus.

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