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Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: Putting all speculations to rest over proposals to extend the nationwide lockdown imposed in the country which is scheduled to end on April 14, the Odisha Government on Thursday decided to extend Coronavirus lockdown in the entire State for 16 more days till April 30.

In doing so, Odisha has become the first State to impose further lockdown restrictions in the wake of rising cases of COVID-19 in the State and outside.

Announcing the major decision soon after a State Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, “We have decided to extend the lock down till April 30. We will recommend the Government of India to extend the national lockdown up to 30th April."

The CM also informed that the State government has suggested the Union Government to shut down rail and air services till April 30.

Besides, all the educational institutions, including schools and colleges in the State will continue to remain closed till June 17, Patnaik said in a video message.

Also Read: Lockdown Cannot Be Lifted In One Go: PM Modi

“I thank the 4.5 crore people of Odisha for all the support and cooperation each one of you has been extending in this serious crisis situation. I know it involves a lot of sacrifice, hardship and uncertainty but this is the only way to face this crisis,” stated the CM.

Highlighting the grave scenario of the COVID-19 outbreak in the USA, Patnaik said, “From March 15 when we had the first case, we have so far recorded 42 cases thanks to your discipline and sacrifice which has given us the strength. In the same period, US- a superpower, has moved from 3000 to 4 lakh cases. The United States has lost more people to Covid-19 than all the wars and 9/11 attack put together. They have still not locked down the country as a whole. At this crucial juncture one has to decide between protecting lives of people and economic activity. The State Cabinet which met today decided that saving the lives of our people is our top most priority at this juncture.”

The CM also said that the people of Odisha, who are stranded in various parts of the country will be taken care by the concerned state governments and the State will look after the people of other states who are stuck in Odisha.

However, activities related to agriculture, animal husbandry and MGNREGS will be facilitated during the lockdown period with due compliance of social distancing norms, added the CM.

“In a larger context, food security of the people is a major priority of the state. There will not be any problem in transport of goods,” said Patnaik adding that Odisha will carry out one lakh rapid testing in the State at the earliest possible time.

Read More: COVID-19: Death toll touches 166 in India, positive cases climb to 5,734

The CM also thanked doctors from all over the country who have volunteered to offer their services in telemedicine.

“Coronavirus is the biggest threat that the human race has faced in more than a century. Life will not be the same. All of us must understand this and face it boldly together. With our sacrifice and with the blessings of the Lord Jagannath this too shall pass,” Patnaik said while finishing off his statement.

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