Suryakant Jena

In the backdrop of the recent surge in COVID cases, especially the spike in positives related to Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday directed officials to keep the State's entire health infrastructure battle-ready to face the emerging situation.

Patnaik, who took review of the government’s preparedness for the impending third wave of the pandemic, directed the officials to prepare all COVID hospitals in the State fully ready within 10 days. 

The Chief Minister gave clear instructions to make the arrangement of beds, critical care units in line with the highest level of medical emergency protocol followed during the second wave of the pandemic last year. 

Urging the people once again to religiously adhere to all necessary COVID protocols like wearing of masks, regular hand sanitisation et al, Patnaik directed the officials to calibrate restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus cases while maintaining care in order not to disrupt the livelihood of people.

Stressing on the vaccination of people against the virus, Naveen called upon the officials to complete the inoculation target on a campaign mode with priority to vaccinate children in the age group of 15 to 18 years first. 

The Chief Minister said that the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly across the country.  The number of patients has doubled in a few days and millions of people are likely to be infected in the country soon. "Odisha is witnessing an increase in the number of Omicron patients.  Therefore, we need to take immediate steps to ensure that the co-operatives are properly managed," he said.

Revealing that it had been decided to implement some of the preparations on a war-time basis during last week’s review meeting, the Chief Minister asked the Chief Secretary to hold daily review meetings to implement those, distribute tasks of providing oxygen management, information campaigns, training modules, etc to senior officials.

Notably, Odisha has been registering more and more Covid-19 cases in the last few days. From 298 new cases on the New Year day, the daily caseload suddenly spiked to 424 on January 2 before registering 680 cases the next day, the highest for the State in over three months. 

On the other hand, the number of Omicron cases is also increasing and, so far 37 Omicron cases have been detected in the State following detection of three fresh cases of the new variant from among guests at a hotel in Puri.