Coronavirus: Odisha govt declares COVID-19 as disaster

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Friday declared COVID-19 as a state disaster and announced closure of all educational institutions till March 31.

The government declared COVID-19 as a ‘disaster’ under the provisions of Disaster Management Act, 2005 to adequately empower public officials to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced in the Odisha Assembly that all educational institutions would remain closed till March 31, except for holding examinations.

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 required expenditure.

Non-essential official gatherings such as seminars, workshops, conferences have been cancelled.

Social gatherings and assemblies like religious functions, marriage receptions, parties are to be regulated by local authorities. Cinema Halls, swimming pools and gyms are ordered to be closed till 31.03.2020.

The Chief Minister said the health & family welfare department and its directorates, as well as the district collectors and the municipal commissioners have been authorised for making emergency procurement of necessary drugs and consumables, equipment and other required services as are necessary to prevent, contain and mitigate COVID-19.

The competent officers have been authorised to impose required restrictions on assemblies, congregations, institutions and establishments aiming at ‘social distancing’ to contain the spread of the disease by invoking powers under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

He said an Empowered Group of Ministers has been constituted and a Committee of Secretaries under the chairmanship of chief secretary to be constituted to evaluate the emerging situation and take all necessary steps for preventing, containing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the State.

“Each one of us in Odisha has to rise to the occasion and be responsible. In the absence of any vaccine or treatment, our collective responsibility is the only hope we have, to fight this epidemic,” the Chief Minister said.