Sanjeev Kumar Patro

News Highlights

  • Data shows the Rt number in Bhubaneswar is also high at around 1.1. After Rath Yatra, reports suggest a rise in Rt value in the Puri district. The value has gone past 1.

Even as the Covid-19 test positivity rate gives the comfort cushion to the Odisha government, the worry lines for the State administration have been the Rt ( the effective reproduction number or say the rate of transmission) value. As many as 7 districts in the State have Rt value over 1.

The Rt value in Nuapada and Deogarh stands at over 1.5, when Kerala, the State saddling with the highest positive cases in the country, has a value of around 1.15 -1.16 (as per field epidemiology network study). 

Data shows the Rt number in Bhubaneswar is also high at around 1.1. After Rath Yatra, reports suggest a rise in Rt value in the Puri district. The value has gone past 1.

As the swords of spread are hanging over the State's head, the Odisha government has very limited options before it, as far as unlocking in the State is concerned. The buzz, therefore, is the weekend shutdown will continue in category B districts till August 15, and the night curfew will also be continued for the next 15-days.

"Odisha government's main objective is to keep a tab on the Rt value. The sure-fire non-pharmaceutical intervention to curb the spread of infection is to impose some restrictions on gatherings. As night curfew and weekend shutdown carry a minimal impact on the livelihood of people, the government is in favour of continuing the measures," explained a senior official in the State Home Department.

Will Night Curfew Keep A Check On Spread?

Let's take a glance at the scientific studies. The details follow.

1.    A study carried out in the Hunan Province of China, at the beginning of the outbreak, and the report which was published in the Science journal found that curfews have helped in reducing the spread within the community. However, it increased the risk of infection within households.

2.    According to a study by British researchers, the nighttime curfew could have a positive effect on the reproductive number (Rt) of COVID-19. Their study finds that nighttime curfew has the potential to lower the Rt by 13 per cent. But the caveat they dropped is, the governments have to ensure Covid-19 appropriate behaviour or put some restrictions to curb the spread during day hours.

3.    As per researcher Brian Labus, assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada, the purpose of these overnight stay-at-home orders is to reduce nonessential interactions between people from different households.

4.    What Union Home Ministry Order on night curfew says: The Covid-19 Unlock night curfews are only to stop the congregation of persons and to ensure social distancing, which mostly happens during night hours (leisure time).

5.    Why night curfew most preferred tool to fight Covid: Experts believe while this tool will aid in reducing the transmission of disease, it's not disrupting the lives and livelihood of people, unlike the complete lockdown.

However, a glance at the above studies drops the vital clue with regard to the rising Rt value in 7 districts, including the State capital Bhubaneswar, in the State. The inference is the nighttime curfew will only restrict the non-essential gatherings, but essential gatherings in day time hold the risk of transmission. Therefore, Union Health Ministry guidelines call for largescale testing and tracing to cut the transmission chain. 

Where Locks To Stay?
•    Locks will be on all training, coaching institutes
•    Curtain to be down in cinema halls, theatres, open-air theatres etc
•    Locks to stay in public parks.
•    Restrictions on Malls may continue
•    No dining at restaurants/hotels.
•    No political or social gathering will be allowed.

What Relaxations Likely?

Most activities in the State have been opened up, including sports and film shooting. The only relaxation this time will be...
•    All shops (essential + non-essential), excepts in malls, in the State will remain open till 8 pm.