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CM's Sister, Puri King Home Quarantined as Odisha Swings into Emergency Mode to Prevent COVID-19 Outbreak

Representational Image. (Image: AP)

Representational Image. (Image: AP)

After downing shutters on anganwadis, schools and malls on March 16, Odisha had made in mandatory for each person returning from abroad to register with the government portal.

New Delhi: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has ensured that his sister and renowned author Gita Mehta who came back from the US shared her details with the government’s online portal meant for compulsory registration of each individual returning from abroad. She is also under home isolation in view of the rapid spread of the coronavirus in India and across the world.

Same is the case with the titular king of Puri, Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb, who had been attending multiple programmes at Jagannath temples in different American cities over the last few days. His family members too have done the same.

Patnaik has himself taken to Twitter to inform citizens about the steps taken by these prominent citizens. The underline message is simple: there is no exception to Odisha’s rule for compulsory registration with the government portal and there is no stigma associated with it either.

After downing shutters on anganwadi centres, schools, colleges, cinema halls and malls on March 16, Odisha had made in mandatory for each and every person returning from abroad to compulsorily register either by dialing in the helpline 104 or logging onto

The government has made it clear that this should be done within 24 hours of arrival and registration before arrival would be preferred. All these individuals would also be in home quarantine for 14 days.

To make sure that its regulations are followed, the state government has decided to incentivise disclosure with a sum of Rs 15,000, and at the same time, punish non-disclosures under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure.

This regulation would be in force until April 15. Panchayat representatives must inform district medical authorities about people returning from abroad who would be required to be quarantined at home. For those travelling to Odisha from other states within the country, home quarantine for 14 days has been advised, but has not been made mandatory.

On Tuesday, the Odisha Police suspended the breath analyzer test for drunken driving until further orders.

Additionally, Section 144 was imposed in the temple town of Puri to discourage mass gatherings and Konark, another popular tourist destination in the state.

The same day, the government’s media managers uploaded on social media a video of the managing director of Odisha Mining Corporation, Vineel Krishna, who had returned from abroad and had home-quarantined himself, following government norms, despite having no symptom of the deadly coronavirus.

On Wednesday, the state government stepped up efforts to create awareness on the disease among the rural populace and protect them from a possible community spread.

Comparing the coronavirus disease to another highly contagious disease, chicken pox, given that both are infectious and have no medicine for cure, the government put out campaign materials to communicate the severity of the threat to rural Odisha.

The drive is being carried out through panchayats, panchayat samitis and zilla parishads. “Just like our mothers used to isolate us for 14 days whenever we had chicken pox and took care of us, we have to make similar preparations for the coronavirus as well,” read the government notification sent to elected village and district representatives, followed by a series of measures.

The first directive is aimed at beneficiaries of the state government’s Madhu Babu Pension Yojana meant for those above 60 years of age and women who have lost their husbands. The beneficiaries would get their four months’ pension at one go.

The same would also apply for beneficiaries of the National Social Security Scheme. The disbursals would be made available at the village of the beneficiary.

Under the National Food Security Act, beneficiaries would be provided wheat, rice and kerosene for three months. This would be done in 45 days beginning April 2. There will be no biometric or iris scanning due to the threat of the dreaded coronavirus.

As anganwadis have been shut down till March 31, dry ration to take of care of children’s breakfast and lunch will be delivered to their homes.

The state government is also making arrangements for essential and life-saving drugs to be made available at government hospitals spread across the state. In every village, Anganwadi or ASHA workers would be stocked with essentials like paracetamol and ORS.

An amount of Rs 5 lakh has been set aside for one house in every panchayat that will be equipped with electricity, water, toilets and power back ups and can function as a temporary hospital in case of an emergency.

Isolation centres would also be set up at gram panchayat and block levels. The state government has claimed that 546 isolation beds are ready in the state’s medical colleges and hospitals.

Meanwhile, samples of the all the suspected cases in the state tested negative as of Wednesday. The condition of the lone person in Odisha diagnosed with COVID on March 16, with a travel history to Italy, was reported to be stable. The 53 people that he came in contact with have been quarantined and are under observation.