Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government now faces an uphill task for effective management of COVID19 with the lockdown ending on May 3, keeping in view the return of nearly 5 lakh people, who are now stranded in other States.

In a bid to ensure, that the wave of returnees from outside do not trigger an outbreak, Odisha is aiming to complete the registration process of all the people who intend to return to the State within the next 10 days for tracking, tracing & quarantine purposes.

The State government has come up with a special format for registration which will begin from tomorrow. As per the guidelines, the returnees will have to undergo a mandatory institutional quarantine of 14 days at medical camps in their respective panchayats.

If a returnee shows any Covid-19 symptoms, samples of the concerned person will be collected & tested.

As per official sources, the registration process will be conducted both online and offline. In the prescribed format, the returnees will have to mention their name, address and details of their travel history. Whether the returnee is a labourer, student or tourist, they will have to share all such basic information during the registration process.

Concerned nodal officers at gram panchayats and urban areas will then upload the data. A five-member team headed by respective Sarpanchs will be formed to supervise the entire registration process, informed Panchayati Raj Minister Pratap Jena.

“Five-member teams at the panchayat level will be set up and they will initiate necessary measures for coordination so that quarantine can be done effectively,” said Jena.

As most of the returnees belong to the working class, the government has announced Rs 2,000 as cash incentive to each on completion of the 14-day quarantine period.

Earlier, Odisha government had granted certain powers of the district collector to Sarpanchs (village headmen) so that they can take tough decisions for better management of the COVID19 situation in the areas under their jurisdiction.

Expressing concern over government’s decision, Odisha Congress president Niranjan Patnaik said, “Such decision might create problems as there will be chances of infection during their journey by bus or train. Instead of competing with others, Odisha government should take care of the people where they are stranded and give them Rs 5,000 each.”

Meanwhile, Odisha Health and Family Welfare Minister, Naba Das informed that the State will urge the Centre to conduct COVID19 test of the migrant workers in the State they are stranded.

“We will send a proposal to the Centre for conducting COVID19 tests of Odisha migrant workers in the states they are stranded so that it will help us to tackle the situation better,” said Das.

Das also informed that the State is trying to increase its daily testing status to 3,000 per day and might achieve the target by April end.

Though the state is currently conducting 2,000 tests every day, arrangements are being made to set up testing labs in four new state-run medical colleges at Bolangir, Balasore, Baripada and Koraput," Panchayati Raj Minister Pratap Jena said after a meeting of the group of ministers (GOP) here.

This apart, Covid-19 testing will also be conducted at the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) in Bhubaneswar.

"It has also been decided to increase the testing capacity of the laboratory at the Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), Bhubaneswar, from 200 to 450 per day," the minister added.