Coronavirus | Odisha to step up screening of those returning to State

Buses and special trains have been arranged to bring back migrants, students and others stranded in different parts of the country

Published - May 02, 2020 01:23 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

The Odisha government on Friday said that it was making all efforts to facilitate return of its people from other States by buses and special trains during the coming weeks.

The total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 149 with detection of seven new cases in different districts of the State on Friday. Two youths found positive in Bolangir district had returned from Tamil Nadu and the four in Jajpur district and one in Balasore district had West Bengal links.

Out of the total 149 cases, 93 were undergoing treatment at exclusive COVID hospitals. While one patient has died, the number of persons recovered increased to 55 on Friday with discharge of 14 persons during the past 24 hours, officials said.

Announcing the government’s strategy for return of Odia people from outside the State, Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy sought the cooperation of officials and representatives at gram panchayats and urban local bodies to ensure quarantine and testing of all the returnees upon their arrival.

Mr. Tripathy informed that the Odia workers, students, professionals and patients stranded in other States will be allowed to return by buses and special trains only. While some people have started arriving returning from other States by buses, one special train each was scheduled to leave for Odisha from Kerala and Gujarat on Friday night, he added.

While the buses will be allowed to enter Odisha at 11 designated checkpoints, the special trains would be allowed to stop at particular stations from where the returnees would be taken by buses to their respective destinations. All returnees will be stamped with indelible ink for quarantine by the health authorities.

All the returnees should have their registration done through the website that the State government had launched on March 24 before they board the buses or trains, said Mr. Tripathy.

He further said that health screening of those who would come by trains would be done by the local authorities before they boarded and the health screening of those coming by buses would be done at the camps set up at the entry points on the State border.

All the returnees would be placed in quarantine at the facilities created by the government at the panchayat or urban body levels as well as their homes. Screening and testing of samples would be carried out at the community level, said Mr. Tripathy.

Requesting people not to panic, Subroto Bagchi, the State government’s chief spokesperson on the pandemic, said the coming few weeks would be most crucial to curb the outbreak as many were returning to the State.

Meanwhile, the Health Department urged those who had already managed to return from West Bengal and other States to come forward for testing even if they were in good health.

Only 15% of the positive cases in the State till date had some symptoms at the time of testing, and the rest had no symptoms, the Health Department pointed out.

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