Odisha Pulls Leaf out of China's Book, Nearly Half of it Braces for Wuhan-like Lockdown from Tomorrow to Contain Coronavirus
The general public in five districts and eight towns has been directed to venture out only for essential needs — groceries, food and water, medicines and hospitals. However, airports, railways, bus stands and essential services have been exempted.
Image for representation.
New Delhi: In an extreme measure aimed at containing the community spread of coronavirus, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik moved fast on Saturday to lock down nearly half of the state, including capital Bhubaneswar, for a week beginning 7am on March 22.
Two people have tested positive for coronavirus in Odisha so far and earlier the state government had prohibited the gathering of more than seven people in public.
Five districts — Khurdha, Cuttack, Ganjam, Kendrapada and Angul — and eight towns of Puri, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Balasore, Jajpur road, Jajpur town and Bhadrak will be placed in a Wuhan-like lockdown. The general public has been directed to venture out only for essential needs — groceries, food and water, medicines and hospitals. However, airports, railways, bus stands and essential services have been exempted.
The first districts and towns to be locked down are those from where more than 70% of the 3,200 foriegn returnees come. Patnaik drew upon the strategy that China adopted in Wuhan.
"It is only if you go out of your home that you may bring the virus to your home and your neighbourhood. Only through this strategy China and some countries have reversed the trend," he said. "In fact, Wuhan, which is the nerve centre, has no more infections today. Their hospitals are free."
Patnaik said the time has come to take such an extraordinary step and sacrifice in order to protect Odisha and its citizens.
"We have more than 3,000 people who have returned from foreign countries. They have been advised to put themselves in home-quarantine," he said, adding that a majority of them belong to districts and towns that will be put under lockdown. "So in the first phase, we are going for a near complete lockdown in all these areas from 7am tomorrow till 9pm of March 29."
Under Rule 2 of the Odisha COVID-19 Regulation, 2020, for prevention and containment of coronavirus disease, 2019 (COVID-19), the state government notified the lockdown and stipulated several restrictions. No public transport services, including operation of taxis and auto-rickshaws will be permitted. The exception will include transport of all kinds to and from hospitals, airports, railway stations, bus terminals and bus stands.
All shops, commercial establishments, offices and factories, workshops and godowns will close their operations.
In these five districts and eight towns, all distribution of benefits, such as pension and PDS, are postponed. All foreign returnees are directed to remain under strict home quarantine for a period as decided by the local health authorities. People are required to stay at home and come out only for basic services while strictly following social distancing guidelines issued earlier.
Those exempted from the lockdown are offices charged with law and order and magisterial duties, collector, sub-collector, police, health, urban local bodies, fire service, rail, air and intercity bus transport, electricity, water and municipal services, banks, ATMs, electronic and print media, telecom and internet services, postal services, supply chain and related transportation, e-commerce (delivery) of all essential goods, including food, pharmaceutical and medical equipment, food, groceries, milk, bread, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and their transportation-related activities and warehousing, takeaway/home delivery restaurants, hospitals, chemists and optical stores, pharmaceuticals manufacturing and their transportation-related activities, petrol pumps, LPG gas, oil agencies, their godowns and transportation-related activities, among others.
The Odisha government has declared that all service providers, including the private sector, engaged in coronavirus relief operations will be termed "emergency workers".
Patnaik said the police alone cannot enforce the lockdown, adding "it is the duty of the community, specifically sarpanches and elected representatives and other community leaders, to keep a close watch and monitor this lockdown".
Strongly advising private companies to work from home, Patnaik made it clear that in case they cannot do so, they have to obtain a certificate from the district collector to coninue functioning from their offices.
He also warned that the administration will take action against those violating the lockdown, charging them under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
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