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How Odisha CM Is Leading The Nation In Fighting Coronavirus? An Insight


10 April 2020

Sangita Agarwal


Bhubaneswar:  “What Odisha thinks today, India thinks tomorrow! Lockdown extended till April 30.” tweeted Suhel Seth, a columnist, actor, keynote speaker, and a TV Pundit. It has garnered about several million likes, and was re-tweeted several times. 

When all the other states in India were contemplating over the issue whether to extend the 21-day lockdown declared by PM Modi, Odisha was the first to extend it till April 30, and recommended the Union Government to do the same. He also asked the centre not to start train and air services till April 30.

“Coronavirus is the biggest threat that the human race has faced in more than a century. Life will not be the same ever. All of us must understand this and face it boldly together. With our sacrifice and with the blessing of Lord Jagannath, this too shall pass,” Mr Patnaik said in the statement.

He also said, “It was a choice between economy and life” and he chose life over the economy.

Odisha has been acknowledged as a pioneer in preparedness to meet the COVID-19 challenges. The State's strategy has been emulated by the Centre and now the States are also toeing Odisha's line to contain the spread of COVID-19.

With the first corona case detected on March 15, State government had been preparing grounds for the pandemic since January. It started by singling out people coming from abroad and asking them to quarantine themselves (and extending help from the authorities).

The 5-T which is now taken up by Delhi government of Testing and Tracing was practiced in Odisha since the initial days of the pandemic outbreak. 

Odisha had started the lockdown in phases much before PM Modi declared a 21-day lockdown in the whole country. The 3 districts where the Covid patients were detected went into lockdown immediately after the ‘Janata Curfew’ which was then slowly extended to other districts, and finally there was full lockdown in the country. 

It was the first State to declare exclusive Covid-19 Hospitals. The facilities were prepared in record time to meet any exigency during this pandemic.  

When Odisha government readied the first two “Odisha Covid Hospitals” with a capacity of 650 beds in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, completing in record time of one week, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan stated, “I commend Shri Naveen Patnaikji for his pro-active approach to the issue and setting new records in establishing dedicated healthcare facilities despite low number of covid 19 cases,” Odisha had registered few cases till then. 

On April 6th, he complemented again by stating, “Odisha is leading from the front in fighting and containing the pandemic.”

The Government of Odisha has also announced to provide free treatment, free food and stay for all Covid-19 patients in these hospitals. 

The Odisha government even asked the heads of different States to take care of the Odia migrants in their respective States, and has taken all the measures to take care of all those stuck in Odisha.

Odisha was the first State to make masks compulsory. It has set a precedent in compelling citizens to wear masks which was followed by metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai, and States like Uttar Pradesh.

Odisha is all set to have 1 lakh rapid testing kits which would help it in the fight against this deadly virus. 

Though Odisha government closed all the educational institutions in the State till June 17, it realises that food security of people is of utmost importance. “Agriculture, animal husbandry, MGNREGS related activities to be facilitated following social distancing norms. As earlier, free movement of goods transport will be allowed,” the state government said.

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik was honoured by PETA for allocating funds to ensure that community animals do not go hungry during this pandemic. 

When the most powerful and richest country in the world is still finding it difficult to handle the intensity of the situation, with around 4.6 lakh infected and 16,697 deaths by April 10th, a State in India had the foresight to take pro-active and pre-emptive measures to keep it safe. It is worth mentioning that US has not declared a complete lockdown till now, inspite of so many casualties. 

Odisha has registered 48 confirmed cases with one death till now. Two have also recovered from this disease. 

Years of fighting natural calamities every year, and willing to learn from other's experience has made Odisha stronger than it was during the 1999 super cyclone. With a strong disaster management plan and able leadership of CM Naveen Patnaik, the people of Odisha can only hope to sail through and emerge victorious in the battle against Coronavirus pandemic.