Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar/Malkangiri: Odisha government has finally buckled up to intensify testing and tracing in rural areas after COVID cases surged significantly in village areas.

The rural areas in the State accounted for 51% of COVID positive cases in April and 57% in May prompting the State government to intensify its COVID regulations in the rural belts.

After chairing an all-party meeting held on Monday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked ASHA workers to conduct door-to-door COVID survey in rural areas for three months, showing concern on an ever growing infection in villages.

AS per the directions, during the drive, anybody with COVID symptoms will be tested and then isolated. Patnaik has urged all the stakeholders to cooperate in the drive.

The Centre has also issued a SOP in this connection urging States to implement it on ground. Addressing a press briefing, the Joint Secretary of Health Ministry, Luv Agrawal said, “We have issued a detailed SoP for semi-urban, rural and tribal areas mentioning ways to take help of public representatives, community based organisations like NGOs in order to check the spread of COVID cases in rural areas.”

Similarly, the Panchayatiraj Department has also been directed to keep vigil on migrant workers returning from other states and ensure their quarantine process before allowing them into their villages.

On the other hand, detection of 12 Covid positive cases in Bonda community in Malkangiri district has put the district administration on toes. After days of efforts, the administration has finally managed to persuade the primitive tribe to come forward for testing and observe COVID appropriate behaviour. The administration has reportedly made a blueprint to keep the tribals away from the infection.

“Four out of the 12 infected have been discharged from COVID centre so far. We have constructed a cluster TMC at Mudulipada panchayat. We will begin active surveillance to identify symptomatic patients from tomorrow,” said Y Vijay, Collector of Malkangiri.

The Collector himself visited the Bonda ghat in the district and conducted awareness campaigns to make the tribals come forward for testing.

“The Collector has made us aware of all the COVID appropriate behaviour including covering our faces with masks and maintaining social distancing,” a teenager at the Bonda ghat said.