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Odisha Sitting On A Ticking Bomb: Ganjam District Exceeds National Average In Positivity Rate

By Praveen K Singh

With the start of Lockdown 4.0 from May 18, there seems a dubiety as what will be the fallout beyond lockdown and what is there in the offing. As Ganjam district becomes the frontrunner in exceeding the national average in higher positivity rate, it is just the blip on the radar.

The positivity rate in Ganjam is currently projected at around 5.13 in comparison with the national median of 4.12. However, the State’s arithmetic mean is marginal at 0.91 percent.

The other noteworthy indicators are: Balasore follows Ganjam. The other districts having higher rate than the State average are: Bhadrak (1.41), Jajpur (1.23) and Kendrapada (1.23). While the capital city of Bhubaneswar, which was Odisha’s first COVID Red zone, has currently a meager 0.36 with regard to the state average of 0.91. The district-wise tests done per one lakh shows the rate for Ganjam is much below the state average. The total COVID tests per one lakh in the State are estimated at 1967.70; whereas the number for Ganjam stood at 1544.86. The capital city has conducted the highest number of tests per one lakh population in the State subsequently by districts like Jajpur at 5133.63, Balasore at 3461.70 and Bhadrak at 3328.38.

While over 20 districts in the state have a lower tests rate per one lakh population a propos to the state average. As many as 10 districts are witnessing a sweeping reverse migration of migrant labourers.

COLLECTIVE COMPLIANCE

Describing the severity of further spread, Dr VK Paul, NITI Aayog member explains, “There could be new clusters when life and activities become more normal. The enormity of such proliferation is inversely proportional to the collective compliance with the best practices.”

With the reverse migration on rise, some senior officials of Ministry of Health believe that the country cannot afford to fritter away the lockdown gains made at a phenomenal economic cost and hardship. “We need to keep the transmission in check and ensure that no new peaks appear. June and July will test the government and authorities resolve,” expresses Paul.  

The nation has already been afflicted in terms of a number of hardships to the general public as well as economy being at the standstill. A further extension of lockdown is certainly a challenge in abundance. A section of government officials also believe that the country cannot afford to further have more rounds of lockdown as the economy is at the standstill, where all industries are closed and there is no manufacturing or any sort of industrial activity in the country.

ACCUMULATED WELL-BEING

Ascertaining the real nature of the crisis, the country has prepared itself towards a graded response. The accumulated well-being and benefits of the lockdown till now cannot be further be diluted in one go.  

Post economic package announcement, under the India COVID19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package, a fund to be utilised to be used in three phases with Rs 12565 Crore has been sanctioned for COVID19 emergency response. The remaining fund is to be utilised for support over the next one to four years “to be provided under mission mode approach”.

The package is aimed at slowing and containing the spread of coronovirus in the country by developing diagonistic and Covid-dedicated treatment facilities. It is also expected to be utilised for centralised procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs needed to treat patient. The fund will be used to prop up resilient national and state health systems to support prevention and preparedness for further disease outbreaks, setting up of laboratories and bolster surveillance activities, bio-security preparedness, pandemic research and proactively engage communities and conduct risk communication activities.

INCREASING TESTS IN DISTRICTS

With the rushing return of migrant labourers, the State health department of Odisha will have to increase tests in such districts, which may throw up more positive cases in the days to come. In Odisha, there is a direct co-relation between total tests done and the number of positive cases, especially in the aftermath of return of migrants.

The State’s need in terms of drugs, masks, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is of utmost importance.

As per WHO protocol, PPE need to be used by all stakeholders associated with Covid-19 care and treatment. Right from health care sanitation workers to lab technicians, sample collectors, nurses and doctors. Besides, it is also needed for IDSP staff who do door-to-door screening for collecting swab samples in containment zones.

As per Odisha government information, the State currently has sufficient PPEs, which have been procured as per the demand for futuristic needs.

The data released today also showed a discernible yawning gap with regard to N-95 respiratory masks and triple layer surgical masks. According to Yamini Sarangi, MD, Odisha State Medical Corporation Ltd (OSMCL) the State currently have a sufficient PPE stock. PPE kits include gowns, aprons, gloves, eye and face covering materials etc. She added OSMCL is also acquiring the PPE requirement for the State as per the need as PPEs are very vital in Covid-19 battle.

The preparedness is in terms of having diagnostic kit and safety equipment. The virus doesn’t have any specific treatment or vaccine. Also, because of desultory genetic mutation, the virus is dangerous and not easily be detected. Witnessing Western countries and United States, the country as a whole has got a number of lessons to keep in mind in order to fight out the pandemic. Till the time any effective vaccine is developed, the battle against COVID19 will be fought through collective efforts, which is what the government is trying to make the masses realise.

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