Odisha reports 2nd COVID-19 case; bans large gatherings

Odisha reports 2nd coronavirus case; bans large gatherings, orders closure of restaurants

 Odisha reported its second coronavirus case on Friday after a man who returned from the UK tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the state government to announce a slew of steps to prevent the spread of the infection, including a ban on large gatherings and closure of bars and restaurants.

The government also requested journalists not to attend the daily press briefing on COVID-19 outbreak and instead take the official feed through WhatsApp, email and other platforms.

A 19-year-old man who returned from the UK has tested positive for coronavirus, the second confirmed case in Odisha, state government's chief spokesperson for COVID-19 Subroto Bagchi said.

He is the son of the medical superintendent of AIIMS, Bhubaneswar.

"The health condition of both the COVID-19 cases is stable," Bagchi said.

The second COVID-19 patient returned from the UK on Wednesday and was admitted to the isolation ward at AIIMS, Bhubaneswar on Thursday. His family members have been asked to home quarantine themselves, he said.

The man came in contact with 46 persons after his return from the UK and 43 of them have been identified. Eight teams are now engaged in tracing the remaining three people, he added.

Bagchi said out of the samples of 66 people tested so far in the state, two have tested positive for novel coronavirus, while the results of four are awaited.

Asked about alleged resentment among a section of resident doctors at AIIMS over the senior official's son mingling with others, the spokesperson said, "The state government has given highest priority to this issue. We are reviewing the situation."

When contacted, Director of AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, B Gitanjali told PTI, "Yes, I had a meeting with them (resident doctors). An anonymous letter is doing rounds. It is not signed. It is a bogus thing. There is no allegation. The issue is that medical superintendent's (MS) son came from abroad and he had some symptoms."

"The MS came to the hospital and he (boy) was isolated. We took his blood sample for testing using the proper procedure and it came out positive and he is kept under isolation. We are exactly following the Government of India norms. But, I do not see anything wrong which the MS did in the whole thing. He did exactly what he is supposed to do.

"All precautions required to treat a patient were taken. All the doctors who are treating (patients) in that clinic are taking the protective measures. And the patient himself was wearing a mask when he came," she added.

Stepping up measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Odisha government prohibited gathering of more than seven persons in public places like markets, parks and bus stops etc, an official notification said.

All meetings in offices other than those related to COVID-19 have also been cancelled, it said.

Wherever required, video conferencing will be conducted in order to maintain social distancing, most essential to avoid the virus. Cabinet meetings and those of the empowered group of ministers will be held through video conferencing, it said.

According to the notification, all official functions, including commemoration and garlanding of statues, have been suspended till further orders.

Another official order said all stand-alone restaurants, bars, coffee shops, canteens, eateries of all kinds where large number of people dine and congregate are to be closed immediately.

All hotels have been directed to maintain a distance of two meters among guests in their in-house restaurants.

Public transport, including taxis and autorickshaws, inside the city limits of all the urban local bodies will be allowed to ply on alternate days, the order said.

All markets, shopping complexes, village markets will be regulated to allow sale of only food items like groceries, vegetables, chicken, fish, egg and other essential and daily need items.

"No congregation of more than seven people is allowed at any place," the notification said.

On the participation of media persons in the daily press briefing on COVID-19, Bagchi said keeping in view the safety of journalists, all are requested to take official feed through WhatsApp, email and other platforms.

The journalists can send in their questions though WhatsApp by 12 noon to the director of Information and Public Relations Department before the daily press briefing in order to get the desired information, he said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has appealed to people not to disturb doctors, nurses, health workers and others engaged in the campaign against the novel coronavirus.

He has also expressed his gratitude towards doctors, nurses and others who have been working tirelessly to treat patients. 

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