By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, April 29, 2021: Odisha government is mulling over a plan to impose a lockdown for at least a week in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and several western districts later this week as the state reported a single-day surge of 8,386 cases and a high test positivity rate of nearly 20 per cent, officials said.

Senior state government officials said lockdown here as well as nearby Cuttack and western districts like Kalahandi, Nuapara, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Sundargarh and Nabarangpur, seemed to be the only way out as weekend shutdown since last week has not helped in bringing down the test positivity rate (TPR). While the rise of TPR of 1.5 on April 1 to 19.7 on April 27 has been swift, in western districts it has been staggering.

Director of health services, Bijay Mohapatra, said community transmission is one of the reasons behind the spike. “The number of cases in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack is increasing as many people are coming to the city from different places. One person can infect many others. As there are many returnees in the Bhubaneswar and Cuttack from outside the state, the number of cases is increasing in the two places. One positive person is infecting multiple persons. Hence the cases are increasing,” he said.

Mohapatra said the state government is monitoring the situation daily and accordingly increasing the number of beds when and wherever it is required.

Kalahandi on Wednesday reported 55.7 TPR while Sundargarh reported a TPR of 42.64. Sambalpur had a TPR close to 40 while Bhubaneswar’s was around 20.

Former director of AIIMS here, Dr Ashok Mohapatra, said gatherings at vegetable, fish markets and liquor shops are the main reason behind the exponential rise in cases. “New strategies are need of the hour,” he said. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation on Wednesday sealed the city’s busy market building for 48 hours as people were not following Covid appropriate behaviours.

“Social distancing is being blatantly violated here. Many people are roaming freely without masks and there are no systematic arrangements at shops here to avoid crowding. We are amid a pandemic; we can never beat the virus if the safety protocols are flouted in such a manner. Therefore, we were forced to seal the market area for 48 hours, said BMC Additional Commissioner, Laxmikant Sethi.

As Covid-19 cases continued to surge in Odisha there has been a mad rush for hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, injections and medicines with the health infrastructure in the state almost stretched to its limit.

Though health officials said Odisha has now over 31,471 beds in Covid care centres, as well as dedicated Covid hospitals with oxygen facilities available in 17495 beds, in Bhubaneswar, Covid patients were running from pillar to post in getting themselves admitted in various hospitals. Covid hospitals run by SUM, AMRI, Apollo, CARE as well as other hospitals reported full occupancy. Many were seen posting messages on Twitter, seeking beds and oxygen cylinders for their kith and kin.

Bhubaneswar Municipal Commissioner Prem Chandra Chaudhary said steps are being taken to augment the capacity at Covid hospitals by 3,000 more beds in the next 10 days. “Of the present capacity of around 3,000 beds at the Covid hospitals, 50% beds are occupied. However, in view of the relentless surge, the city’s bed capacity will be increased to 6,000 in the next 10 days to meet the demand,” he said.

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