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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: As Khurda district has emerged as a potential hotspot for COVID-19, the planning too seems to have gotten bigger as Odisha government has now decided to ramp up the sample testing in the capital city Bhubaneswar where maximum cases have been reported.

Addressing a presser today, State Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy said with 46 cases so far, Bhubaneswar has emerged as a critical area. "Restrictions have been lifted in two COVID-19 containment zones in Bhubaneswar, while active surveillance, contact tracing, house to house survey and other specialised medical steps are being carried out in rest 3 zones," he said.

The positive side of the story, as Tripathy mentioned, is none of the nine districts has reported COVID cases of late. Keeping this in view, the government has prepared a Bhubaneswar Strategy to tackle COVID menace. "We have prepared Bhubaneswar Strategy in the second phase of lockdown under which we will begin maximizing testing of samples from Bhubaneswar to look into the epidemiological study of COVID-19 in the city."

"We have planned to collect maximum samples from Bhubaneswar. A survey was done to find out how Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and other big cities are collecting samples and how many tests are being conducted. 1958 (38%) of total samples collected in Odisha is from Bhubaneswar. So, we are planning to collect 5000 more samples in the next seven days. If that happens, it will be an exceptional step as no State or city has been able to conduct as many tests per million or lakh population," said Tripathy.

To properly implement the plan, we are upgrading the approved laboratories with more facilities and real-time PCR machines.

Bhubaneswar has been administratively split into 3 distinct zones for efficient management. Senior IAS officers have been made COVID observers, with two managing each zone. Static camps will be set up, while health technicians will move around in mobile vans to collect samples for testing.

Under the Bhubaneswar Strategy, the State government has prepared a scientific priority-basis methodology for sample collection and testing.

  • Priority 1: Those who have travel history, symptoms, primary contact, SARI patients, health workers, those who have come from domestic hotspots, and those failing to maintain social distancing.
  • Priority 2: Healthcare workers, police, sanitary workers, workers deployed in COVID hospitals
  • Priority 3: People aged 60 or above with multiple co-morbid conditions
  • Priority 4: Random population

"The State government is providing best possible treatment for COVID-19, so, in case where someone is necessitated to be included under the Bhubaneswar Strategy mass testing, but s/he is not willing to voluntarily cooperate, we will take the help of administration and police for necessary action," warned the Chief Secretary.

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