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How Odisha has emerged as a leader in Coronavirus management

Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens emphasized that “In order to change the existing imagined order, we must first believe an alternative imagined order.” Apropos of all the news and facts conclusion can be surely made that Chief Minister of Odisha Shri Naveen Patnaik, is a maestro of alternate thinking as far as disaster management is concerned. He and his team of bureaucrats and ministers have bravely and efficiently tackled the global pandemic Corona in the state of Odisha.

Coronavirus or the COVID-19, which was first thought to be unknown pneumonia in China, has rapidly spread across the world, affecting more than two hundred countries, and two ships. With more than three million cases and a death toll of more than two lakh people across the globe, the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30 2020, by the World Health Organization. Social distancing and lockdowns were imposed in the affected countries as a penultimate preventive measure.

Amid the speculations that the impact of COVID-19 in India may be restricted due to early precautions and measures, the current scenario doesn’t quite go along with the argument. On May 10, India saw the highest single-day spike of 4,213 new cases and the total cases have reached massive 67,000, which is growing more than a thousand people per day since past weeks. Even in the times of national breakdown, there’s one state that has stood still and firm, with one of the lowest spreading rates all over the country – Odisha.

Although the doubling rate of the infection in India is quite lower than its counterparts like U.S.A and Italy, that of Odisha is lowest after the state Kerala. According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family, its was 34.12 days in case of Odisha, and only two states have the rates above 30 in the country.  

[Update: Recently, the number of cases has increased in Odisha. Majority of them are migrant workers returned from Surat.]

The success and proactiveness of the state can be attributed to its experience of facing numerous calamities and the commendable leadership of Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik. Anticipating the threat, the pandemic possessed Shri Patnaik declared Corona Virus as a state disaster and authorized the officials by calling on the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897

On March 13, all the educational institute and public places were closed, and after confirmation of the first case on 17th of the same month, 70% of the state capital Bhubaneswar was locked down. And on March 21 it was extended to a complete lockdown, and all interstate trains and buses were stopped, which proved out to be very instrumental in early restrictions of the disease. The state has been credited with the biggest lockdown of its kind in India’s history, when it was successfully enforced on 40% of the state on March 22.

The government did a very impactful use of IT to maintain the track record of people having international and interstate travel history. The state planned very smartly by announcing an incentive of amount 15,000 for all the foreign returned people to register themselves on the government portal, which was developed in less than 24 hours. This distinctive method welcomed a lot of voluntary registration on the website, which helped the government to identify them and put them in home quarantine.

Ahead of all parallel, Odisha became the first state to extended the national lockdown from April 14 to 30th of the month. Despite nationwide lockdown, the CM ensured the availability of all the essential commodities in the state by permitting the movement of all the goods carrying transports into the state. It also led by an example, by providing online passes during lockdown to come out of home and avail all indispensable products. 

The great scientist Albert Einstein quoted “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.” And Shri Patnaik has propitiously set an instance for all other states by starting a dedicated helpline and WhatsApp number for the people arriving from other states and do community monitoring of the people under home quarantine. 

The govt. has strictly discouraged spreading of fake news on social media and even have established an immediate situation to stop this crime. The CM proudly promotes social harmony during the time of the crisis and ensures that there is no hate-mongering about any community. 

In these challenging times, Shri Patnaik has invoked the women who are leading the fight against the virus. Along with all the doctors, police personals, municipality workers etc. the women in SHGs and Anganwadi have relentlessly and with firm determination have dedicated their services to the state. These social soldiers have provided more than 11 lakhs to the CM Relief fund. A huge number of masks have been produced by more than six thousand women working in the SHGs. The state’s apprehension about the condition is also widely appreciated. It has ordered more than 1.5 lakhs Personal Protective Equipment or PPE, and the OSMC also facilitated cargo planes to bring test kits. 

The Odisha government also signified the status of these doctors and health workers for their unparallel service towards the nation. The state has announced a detailed scheme of awards, martyr’s status and state funeral along with a sum of Rs 50 lakh assistance to the families of those doctors and health workers who lose their lives in the battle against Coronavirus pandemic. Shri Patnaik has also recognized the journalists and ground reporters as servicemen against the epidemic. He also condemns any actions against these health workers and servicemen and has warned strict criminal action to be taken against the guilty, invoking the National Security Act. 

The state government has shown enormous grit and determination in the combat of COVID-19. It became the first state dedicate specialized hospitals for coronavirus patients. Till now 24 COVID hospitals have already opened and the state still plans to enact this in each and every district. The CM also shows deep concerns for the people who have been arriving from other states after the Union granted permission.

Specialized quarantine centres have been made for them in their respective districts to keep them isolated from the pubic for fourteen days. The government provides fund for their every basic amenity ranging from toothbrushes to sanitary products, even regular four-square meal and systematic health check-ups and treatment. They will also be awarded a sum of rupees two thousand after the end of the quarantine.

In a significant lockdown strategy, the Govt. facilitated the return of stranded Odia migrant workers in different states. Anticipating an influx of lakhs of them and to effectively carry out the quarantine exercises at the level of gram panchayats, the sarpanches were delegated with the “collectors’ power” within their jurisdiction in accordance with the provision of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 and Odisha Covid-19 regulation. Odisha became the only state to make such a provision. 

A package of 2,200 crores has been announced by Shri Patnaik along with distribution of PDS in one-month advance. The model Chief Minister also has a soft corner for the animals. Naveen is the only CM to be awarded by PETA for announcing a special package to feed the stray animals.

The response of Odisha to the pandemic has been quite positive and remarkable. As the World Economic Forum has lauded the state with praises for its exemplary combat with the coronavirus epidemic, it also credits the success to the will power of the people to face frequent disasters under the praiseworthy supervision of the CM. Worldwide and National media have praised the state on account of its spearheading steps to fightback COVID 19. And adding more to this accomplishment is that state Odisha has served as motivation for the Union and several other states.

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