Even as the Covid caseload in the rest of the state continues its downward spiral, Khordha district is proving to be a big headache for the Odisha government. The district, which includes the capital city of Bhubaneswar, has consistently accounted for nearly 50% of the total daily positive cases reported in the state for last several weeks, the vast majority of them from the state capital. With the number of positive cases in the district breaching the 2, 500 mark, the district slipped into the ‘red zone’ on Wednesday after staying in the ‘yellow zone’ since September 18.
The total number of cases reported during the two waves of the pandemic has crossed 1, 71, 000. No wonder the district has also accounted for a major share of Covid fatalities in the state: 1522 out of 8, 268
Despite increased surveillance and monitoring, the number of fresh positive cases in Khordha has refused to come down significantly, hovering around the 300 marks for weeks now. This has set the alarm bells ringing among health planners and experts. “The fact that the caseload in Khordha has crossed the 2, 500 mark seven months after the second wave is not a good sign. It shows that far from improving, the situation is actually worsening in the district. The more the number of positive cases, the higher are the chances of spread of infection,” said Dr Ajay Parida, Director of the Institute of Life Sciences (ILS).
The ongoing festive season has caused concern among authorities, who have imposed additional restrictions to check the spread of the virus. While there is night curfew in force from 10 pm to 5 am in all urban areas of the state, the curfew in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack is for 9 hours from 8 pm to 5 am. The restrictions, imposed on October 11, will remain in force till October 20. A large posse of policemen are standing guard at all Durga Puja mandaps in the two cities to prevent the gathering of devotees. Only rituals are allowed to be performed at mandaps while congregation of people is banned.
Khordha collector Sanat Mohanty has said the district administration is taking all measures to ensure that the people don’t lower their guard during the festivals, while twin city police commissioner Soumendra Priyadarshi has warned of stringent action against those who violate the restrictions in place.