Odisha terms COVID-19 'disaster', shuts educational institutions and cinema halls till 31 March; govt allots Rs 200 cr to combat coronavirus
All educational institutions in Odisha have been ordered closed on Friday till March 31 over COVID-19 threat, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said on Friday, and earmarked Rs 200 crore to combat coronavirus
Bhubaneswar: All educational institutions in Odisha have been ordered closed on Friday till 31 March over the coronavirus threat, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said on Friday, and earmarked Rs 200 crore to combat the disease.
He said cinema halls, public swimming pools and gyms will also be shut till the end of March.
The chief minister said the government has declared COVID-19 a 'disaster' though nobody has so far tested positive for the virus in the state.
"An amount of Rs 200 crore has been earmarked to augment the Public Health Response Fund to combat the threat of the pandemic and for making the required expenditure," Patnaik said in a statement in the state Assembly.
All educational institutions will remain closed in till March 31, though examinations will be held according to the schedule, Patnaik said, stressing that "social distancing" is the only effective way to prevent the spread of the disease.
"All of us should ruthlessly practice social distancing," he said.
Patnaik said the state Cabinet met on Friday morning and declared COVID-19 a 'disaster' under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to adequately empower public officials to check the spread of the disease.
A total of 17 blood and swab samples collected from those admitted to hospitals on suspicion of coronavirus infection so far have tested negative, health officials said.
Patnaik referred to the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic to emphasise the seriousness of the situation.
"We must remain calm but not complacent... We must remain prepared, but not panic," the chief minister said.
He said non-essential official gatherings such as seminars, workshops, and conferences will be cancelled.
Social gatherings and assemblies like religious congregations, wedding receptions and parties will be regulated by local authorities, he said.
He said the health and family welfare department and its directorates, the collectors and the municipal commissioners have been authorised to make emergency purchase of necessary medicines, consumables and equipment.
Being confined to home, restricted social interaction and avoiding public gatherings will decrease the vulnerability to the disease to a great extent, Patnaik said.
He said officers of the state government have been authorised to impose restrictions on public gatherings by invoking powers under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
An empowered group of ministers has been constituted and a committee of secretaries headed by the chief secretary will be set up to evaluate the emerging situation and take necessary steps for preventing and containing the spread of the disease, Patnaik said.
The COVID-19 Odisha Regulations, 2020, have been approved, he said.
"We are faced with a threat that does not discriminate between developed and under developed countries, democratic and non-democratic countries. Rich and poor societies are equally vulnerable," Patnaik said.
The virus has not spared anyone. The UK's health minister, senators in the US, big movie stars and sportspersons have been stricken, he said, adding that this extraordinary circumstance calls for extraordinary response.
He said no individual or government alone can handle the situation.
"The experience of China, Singapore and Italy has given us a learning on what to do and what not to do. I must confess the entire world is on a learning curve about handling this disaster," the chief minister said.
He said the state will promote sanitisation on a mission mode.
"My personal appeal to you is that this is an opportunity for Odias to stop spitting in public. I urge the members of this august House to take personal care of themselves and also provide inspiring leadership in your constituencies," Patnaik said.
He also warned of strict action against those spreading rumours and misinformation about the disease.
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