As the Naveen Patnaik government began another phase of unlocking today after nearly one-and-a-half months of lockdown and weekend shutdowns, Odisha once again saw a slight increase in its daily Covid cases with 3,631 new cases and 39 casualties reported in the latest 24-hour count, according to data on the state government’s online Covid dashboard.
Of the new cases, 2,069 came from quarantine centres and 1,562 from local contact tracing, as per the state Information and Public Relations department.
The district of Khordha has reported the highest numbers with 506 cases, followed by Cuttack with 438, Jajpur with 305, Balasore with 262 and Angul with 204 cases.
These top-five most affected districts are among the 13 – the others being Puri, Nayagarh, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Dhenkanal, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar – in the state that the government has placed under Category B due to their relatively higher test positivity rate (greater than 5 percent).
In Category B districts, which include the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, shops for essential goods have permission to stay open only from 6 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon on weekdays. Essential services and industrial and construction activities have been allowed too.
While street food vendors will still not be able to operate in these districts, sweet shops will now be allowed to remain open during the allowed time period for the sake of dairy farmers’ livelihoods.
Health-conscious people have got a welcome respite what with morning walks, jogging and cycling activities now permitted during the 6-9am period on weekdays, although parks, gyms and swimming pools will remain shut, as will shopping malls, salons and theatres.
While public bus services remain prohibited, the opening of automobile repairs and cycle shops in the permitted hours has come as a relief for commuters.
Restrictions continue as before on all social gatherings, such as marriages, cremations, thread ceremonies and other functions, as opening of temples and educational institutions remains prohibited as well.
The 17 Category A districts – Sundergarh, Jharsuguda, Bargarh, Sambalpur, Deogarh, Kalahandi, Balangir, Nuapada, Subarnapur, Ganjam, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Boudh, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri and Rayagada – where the test positivity rate is 5 percent or less, will enjoy fewer restrictions.
For instance, shops there will be allowed to operate from 6am all the way till 5 in the evening. Street vendors have been allowed to do business, even if in the form of serving takeaways.
However, weekend shutdowns and night curfews will continue to be in effect across the state – in all districts, just the way they have been since May 5.
This partial lockdown is seen as a necessary balance that the Odisha government must strike during the ongoing global pandemic to steer the state and its people towards normalcy and progress while keeping the risks of another debilitating Covid-19 wave to the absolute minimum.
After all, Odisha’s Covid-19 caseload has risen to 8,66,692, with 45,809 active cases at present. Although 8.17,359 people have receovered from the deadly disease, 3,471 people have succumbed to it.