The COVID-19 situation in rural pockets of cyclone-affected coastal Odisha threatens to assume explosive proportions with rise in cases of people evacuated during cyclone testing positive for the disease.
With spurt in both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases in the cyclone-affected villages, several hamlets in Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore districts are currently placed under micro containment zone restriction to break the chain of infection, a grim indicator towards the fact that the virus has sneaked into coastal hamlets rapidly.
The rural areas mostly in coastal districts are increasingly coming under the infectious grip of COVID-19 in the post-cyclone period after 26 May. The situation in western districts which had witnessed a sharp spike in COVID-19 positive cases has however improved now with a drop in cases.
With the situation threatening to slip out of grip, the Odisha government has decided to conduct door-to-door surveys of people showing signs of COVID symptoms. The ASHA and Anganwadi workers are currently conducting the health screening with surveillance and monitoring by the State’s health and family welfare department, said officials.
The rural areas accounted for 57% of cumulative infections in May while it was 51% in the month of April, the officials added.
The COVID situation in Gadaharishpur gram panchayat in Erasama block is alarming as the exponential spike in infections in three villages- Gadaharispur, Asia and Garia- in the panchayat. The villages have been placed under a containment zone, said Block Development Officer of Erasama, Kailash Chandra Behera.
The returnees from the cyclone shelters have developed sickness symptomatic of COVID-19. Of the 20 samples tested yesterday, 14 were tested positive at 70% positivity rate. 40 more RT-PCR samples have been sent for tests and its results are awaited. We are also conducting more tests today. However many of the sick are not volunteering to get tested. The Sarpanchs and PRI representatives are sensitizing them to go for sample testing, he said.
In nearby Goda and Padmapur gram panchayats also, around 20 infections have been reported. Health screening has been stepped up in both the panchayats. If the infections do not subside, the panchayats will be placed under micro containment restriction, he said.
Situation is also equally alarming in neighbouring Kendrapara district with as many as 13 villages- Nikirai, Jamdhar, Indupur, Narsinghpur, Khadiant, Sanajharia, Bhangan, Ainipada, Jigarana, Ameipala, Sanagaon, Kalagada, Endol, Thakurpatna, Kanpur- placed under containment following the fresh outbreak of disease.
While 36 positive cases have been reported in Bhangal village in Derabish block, around 150 cases were detected in villages placed under containment. The villages are being placed under containment if at least ten are testing positive in a cluster. Our emphasis is on to get more and more people tested to break the chain of infections, said Chief District Medical Officer Kendrapara, Mrs. Anita Pattnaik.
Community transmission is being apprehended in Barsinga village in Hindol block of Dhenkanal district with 96 getting infected. Several villages in the neighbouring Parajang block are currently witnessing spurt in infections.
The rural parts in coastal districts of Bhadrak and Balasore- which bore the maximum brunt of cyclone Yaas and reported the highest evacuation of people to shelters- is experiencing a spike in infections prompting the government agencies to clamp containment and step of health screening and testing.