Ranpur/Keonjhar/Berhampur: In second wave of COVID-19 pandemic that is devastating entire Odisha with increasing number of fatalities, as many as 14 villages in three districts have emerged as a ‘inspiration’ for rest of the State.
Amidst gloom and doom, while fatalities are taking place due to COVID-19 every day, some villages in Nayagarh, Ganjam and Keonjhar districts with strict adherence to COVID-19 guidelines have managed to keep the deadliest virus at bay.
Untouched by COVID during its first wave last year, the residents of six villages — Godasahi, Gachhapatar, Kusupalla, Girinda, Kendua and Kantasiri — in Patia Gram Panchayat under Ranpur block in Nayagarh district are living without fear for COVID infection in the second wave too.
Situated about 20 km away from Tangi Block in Khordha district, which is worst-affected by COVID-19 in Odisha, the Patia GP has earned praise for its six villages that have not reported a single COVID case since the pandemic began last year.
Source said that the distance between each village is 5 to 6 km. Last year, 15 migrants had returned to Godasahi village, which has 64 households and a population of 350, from Kerala during nationwide lockdown. As part of precautionary measure to contain spread of infection, they were kept under quarantine for a period of 14 days. However, not a single returnee was found infected with COVID-19.
“ASHA and Anganwadi workers are creating awareness among villagers about deadly consequences of Coronavius infection. People are following the Government’s instructions. Once a week or a month, people from the village visit hospitals in neighboring Tangi or Chandpur if required,” said villagers Purna Chandra Nayak, Biswanath Nayak and Kalu Nayak.
Although these six villages are neglected in all aspects by the district administration, a road has been paved by the efforts of Patia Sarpanch Prabhat Sahu.
With escalating COVID cases across the State, Keonjhar district, where all 30 Gram Panchayats out of 31 are affected by COVID-19, one Gram Panchayat still remains untouched by the deadly contagion.
K. Balipal surrounded with dense forest is the only Gram Panchayat has become a model for other panchayats in the district as well as for the State.
In the second wave, the Bonda Hills and many tribal regions that were affected by the COVID in first wave in the State, had reported many COVID cases this year. But, the awareness among people of this tribal-dominated panchayat in Keonjhar district has not allowed COVID to enter its premises.
The panchayat consists of 7 villages with population of over 5,000. The residents of the villages strictly obey the COVID guidelines while they are stepping out from their houses for some necessary work. The tribals who are aware of the contagious disease do not allow any outsider into their villages during the pandemic. Young people from villages working outside the State are being kept under quarantine for 14 days as directed by the Government.
The Sarpanch Rambha Patra said that any person complaining of fever and cold is undergoing COVID test. The awareness has kept the villagers safe from COVID in the second wave.
Similarly, Karanjara village in Danapur panchayat under Khalikote block in Ganjam district, has set example for other villages with zero COVID case in the State. At a time Ganjam district was the COVID hotspot in the State last year, the village with 261 households and approximately 1,234 population had not reported a single COVID case during first wave.
The COVID symptoms were not found in villagers when the infection was at peak in last year. In January this year, the local administration had conducted COVID test on 32 villagers and all of them tested negative, a resident of the village said.
“Since the COVID cases are on rise in the State, the healthcare workers are conducting door-to-door survey in village on regular basis to check the COVID symptoms. The villagers are aware of COVID safety protocols and follow the guidelines to keep themselves free from the deadly infection,” said a villager.