Odisha extends lockdown till Apr 30, urges Centre to stop rail, air services till then
Bhubaneswar, Apr 09: The Odisha government on Thursday announced an extension of the ongoing lockdown till April 30, the first state to do so while the Centre weighs the proposal by many states to expand the duration of the shutdown in the face of the burgeoning COVID 19 crisis. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced the decision after chairing a meeting of the state Cabinet. He also declared schools and other educational institutions will remain closed till June 17.
"We have decided to extend the lockdown till April 30. We will also recommend to the Government of India to extend the national lockdown up to 30th April," Patnaik said in a video message soon after the Cabinet meeting he held with five senior ministers through video-conferencing.
Odisha has recorded 44 positive cases of coronavirus so far and one death from the disease. The unprecedented nationwide lockdown was declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 to break the chain of coronavirus transmission and it was scheduled to be lifted on April 15.
While thanking people for cooperating during the lockdown, Patnaik said,"I know it involves a lot of sacrifice, hardship and uncertainty but this is the only way to face the situation."
The chief minister said Odisha reported the first COVID-19 case on March 15 and the number went up to 42 till Wednesday which was not an exponential rise. It was made possible because of the discipline and sacrifice of the people of the state, he said.
In the same period, the US, a superpower, has moved from 3,000 to 4 lakh cases. The United States has lost more people to COVID 19 than all the wars and 9/11 attack put together. They have still not locked down the country as a whole, Patnaik said.
The five-time chief minister said at this crucial juncture one has to decide between protecting the lives of people and economic activity. The state cabinet which met today decided that saving the lives of our people is the top-most priority at this juncture, Patnaik said.
Speaking about people from Odisha stranded in various parts of the country, Patnaik said his governments intervention for their well-being will be through the state governments concerned. Odisha, meanwhile, will take care of natives of other states stranded there. Though lockdown period has been extended, Patnaik said activities related to agriculture, animal husbandry and MGNREGS will be facilitated.
However, social distancing norms will be followed in all spheres. Food security, he said, was a major priority for the state and transportation of essential supplies will continue unhindered.
The chief minister said the state had significantly scaled up testing of suspected coronavirus cases and also strengthened the apparatus for the treatment of those afflicted. He also thanked doctors from all over the country who have volunteered to offer their services through telemedicine to people locked down in their homes.