Odisha to conduct large-scale COVID-19 tests, appeals people to cooperate

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Thursday appealed to the people to cooperate in its efforts to conduct large-scale corona tests to detect hidden cases as the next 8 to 10 days are very crucial for flattening the COVID-19 curve in the state.

The appeal was made by Development Commissioner S C Mohapatra while briefing media on the prevailing COVID-19 situation in the state. He said it will be too early to cheer over detection of just 60 COVID-19 positive cases within a span of one month.

During the mass test to be conducted during the second phase of the lockdown scheduled to end on May 3, the state would be able to assess the actual position of the pandemic only after getting test reports, he said.

“Though majority of the samples tested so far are negative in the state, we should not be happy thinking that Corona is defeated. We will be confident only after conducting tests on a large-scale. However, the rate of corona positivity in Odisha remains low in comparison to the global and national average,” Mohapatra said.

He said that Odisha was in a “comfortable position”, and this has been possible due to sacrifice of the people. “We cannot be happy and break social distancing norms and gather in large numbers. The people should stay indoors,” he said, adding that the government is planning a massive drive for corona test across the state.

Beginning from health workers to vegetable vendors and people working in small eateries, all will undergo the corona tests and everybody should cooperate with the administration by staying indoors, he said. If majority of the people test negative, then only the state will have reasons to be happy and celebrate.

The Development Commissioner said that the COVID-19 testing capacity in the state has increased substantially up to 1,200-1,300 tests per day now from just 300 tests daily two days ago. This testing capacity will further increase in days to come, he said.

Meanwhile, Director, Public Health, Ajit Kumar Mohanty told reporters that the state has already started random tests in 21 districts, which have not been affected by the virus. Of the states 30 districts, COVID-19 positive cases have been reported from only nine districts.

Mohanty said one person in every 10,000 population in each district will be tested. The objective is to trace corona patients in these districts, if any.

Odishas Health minister N K Das said: “We hope to implement a pool test for COVID-19 after getting nod from the ICMR. This will expand current screening capacity and detection of virus in the community.”

State governments COVID-19 spokesperson Subroto Bagchi said there was no room for complacency at the present situation though the rate of COVID-19 positivity remained at low in the state.

Odisha, which has set “zero transmission” target, has so far reported 60 positive cases while 19 persons have recovered and one person died of the COVID-19.

The Ministry of Home Affairs identified Odishas Khurda among the COVID-19 hotspot districts in the country with large outbreaks (46 cases) while Bhadrak is among hotspot (3 cases) districts with clusters.

Similarly, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Kalahandi, Kendrapara, Puri and Sundergarh are among non-hotspots districts reporting cases.

Meanwhile, the state”s Health and Family Welfare department on Thursday issued advisory on the usage of COVID- 19 medicines like Hydroxychloroquine and asked people not to use the drugs without prescription.

Hydroxychloroquine is prescribed only for Asymptomatic healthcare workers and household contacts and laboratory confirmed cases, it said.

(PTI)

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