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Odishatv Bureau

Berhampur: Around 700 people who recovered from COVID-19 in Ganjam district have come forward to assist the administration in persuading symptomatic people to go for testing and also helping them with counselling to draw out the anxieties related to novel-Coronavirus, officials said on Tuesday.

Ganjam considered the COVID hotspot in the state has reported over 13,000 cases so far despite decline in the number of new virus cases for past few days. In order to encourage more people to come forward for COVID testing, the administration has launched a programme named 'COVID Bandhu' to rope in those who have recovered.

Around 700 people have registered their names and many of them are already on the field, motivating people to go for testing, said project director of District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) Sidharth Shankar Swain.

Swain, the nodal officer on COVID-19 management in the district, said the 'COVID Bandhus (friends)' are on a mission to build confidence among the people to fight against the deadly virus. They have fanned out across the district to work among the people, he said.

Amulya Upadhaya of Bhetanai village in Aska block said, "Some shopkeepers, suspected as silent spreaders of the virus, were reluctant to go for testing. But I explained to them about my experience, following which they went for testing."

We have conducted at least three meetings in the village followed by the swab tests of the shopkeepers after I came out from the home isolation, he said.

The 'COVID Bandhus' have been campaigning and creating awareness among the people by narrating their experiences, said K Durga Prasad Rao, the sarpanch of Badakhandi in Hinjili block.

After completing home isolation two days ago, I motivated the people to come forward for swab sample tests in our village and nearby villages, said N Dambaru Reddy of Kotharsing in Rangeilunda block.

Santoshini Mohanty of Kanchuru village of Hinjili block said, "We reached out to the people, especially to the women over phone and social media, asking them to go for early testing without any fear."

Ganjam Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange said more people were coming forward for swab tests now due to the work being done by the 'COVID Bandhus'.

"They reach out to the people, explain their experiences as a patient. They also conduct counselling to the suspected people and remove stigma from their minds, the collector said.


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