Suryakant Jena

With rising scare of a probable surge in Coronavirus infections triggered by the newly found variant SARS-CoV-2, or Omicron, the Odisha government on Wednesday directed authorities in districts to increase the daily Covid sample tests in the State to 70000.

A decision to increase the number of daily Covid tests was taken at a high-level 'pandemic situation' meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Suresh Mohapatra. The daily testing targets were also assigned to all districts during the meeting to achieve the desired target.

The Chief Secretary directed the administrative heads of districts, health officials, and other Block and Panchayat officials to take up aggresive measures at the village-level to complete the cent percent vaccination target by January 15, 2022.

Health officials have been asked to ramp up necessary infrastructure facilities, oxygen cylinders, ICU and ventilator beds in order to deal with any exigency in near future. 

The Chief Secretary directed district authorities to prepare village wise vaccination chart and inform the villagers in advance through the Panchayats, ward members, Anganwadi, ASHA and heath workers so that those in the 18 years and above age group, who form the working population, can make their arrangements for vaccination.

He asked the Health and Family Welfare department to give advance intimation to private hospitals about the requirement of their services like in the earlier two waves of Covid-19. The private hospitals should be ready to provide it.

Similarly, orders have also been issued to health officials to ensure Covid tests of people coming in frequent contact with others like delivery boys, shopkeepers, hostel inmates, marriage and funeral attendees on a priority basis. 

The Chief Secretary also asked the district collectors and SPs to strictly enforce the pandemic guidelines during conduct of marriages, funerals and other social functions. 

They were also asked to enforce COVID appropriate behavior in market places, industrial centers and other public places. Testing teams were directed to undertake random testings of the disease at public places, the statement said.

This apart, all primary health centers were asked to have rapid antigen test facility along with the facility for RT PCR test sample collection. The heads of the districts have also been directed to keep in place sufficient isolation centres in order to accommodate large number of foreign returnees who are expected to arrive in the State in the coming days. 

As per the data obtained from the Health Department, 99.8 per cent of health workers and frontline warriors have already received vaccines. Around 88.2 per cent of people aged 18 years and above have been inoculated with at least a single dose of vaccine while 86 of them have received both jabs.