Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: With Odisha continuing to see a considerable surge in cases of novel-Coronavirus on a daily basis, the State Health Department has now decided to rope in private laboratories to facilitate more aggressive Covid testing.

Health Minister Naba Das on Thursday informed that since ICMR has already given a green signal to begin testing in private laboratories, the government is going to begin testing at Bolangir, Koraput & Baripada from May 16, May 23 & May 31, respectively.

Chief Minister has been stressing on increasing the State’s Covid testing capacity to 15000 per day and an inter-ministerial meeting was also held today to discuss its feasibility, Das said.

Odisha government has also sent a proposal to the Centre to procure necessary testing and other medical equipment through Odisha State Medical Corporation Limited to facilitate the private laboratories, the Health Minister further informed.

In view of large influx of migrants, Odisha government has decided that vulnerable people like old persons, pregnant women, children returning to Odisha from other States will be asked to stay in home quarantine. Apart from that people tested negative for Covid19 after arriving in Odisha from outside States will be sent for home quarantine. A detailed SOP will be soon released for public soon, sources said.

Health Minister Naba Das further informed that in case if it’s necessary, bed strength in Covid hospitals will be increased by 4000 more. The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act will also be strongly enforced as a precautionary measure to fight against Covid-19, Das added.

As of May 14, SARSn-CoV tally in the State was at 611 with Ganjam being the worst affected. The southern district has reported 252 cases i.e. more than 40% of the State's total cases while Balasore & Jajpur follow next with both accounting for over 14% of cases each.

The swift rise in Coronavirus cases comes at a time when thousands of migrant workers continue to return to Odisha from various severely Covid-affected states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu.