Amid the growing concern over the shortage of protective gear as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in India and the world, self-help groups (SHGs) in Odisha have manufactured over one million masks for distribution among people.
At least 400 SHGs – under the Odisha government’s Mission Shakti programme – made around 50,000 masks every day, as part of its efforts to help the state government in its fight against the novel coronavirus, a senior official said.

“SHGs in the state have risen to the occasion to supply masks at affordable rates. Despite unfavourable circumstances, these women continue to contribute towards public health,” he said.

Some of these groups have also been visiting villages across the state to generate awareness on the disease and distributing cooked food among the poor, amid the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

“With the help of district officials, these self-help groups have also set up temporary outlets to ensure steady supply of food grains, vegetables and fruits to common people,” the official added.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had recently said that “it was heartening to see the all-round response of women, especially members of Mission Shakti Self- Help Groups, during this critical time.”

Intensifying its battle against COVID 19, the Odisha government announced a 48-hour total shutdown on April 3, akin to curfew, in the state capital Bhubaneswar and Bhadrak town from 8 pm tonight, the state’s top official said. The lockdown in force in other parts of the state will continue during which essential supplies like groceries, vegetables and milk will be available to people. The state has reported five active cases of Coronavirus till now.

During the intensive curfew all shops selling essential commodities will remain closed in Bhubaneswar and Bhadrak towns, Chief Secretary AK Tripathy said. Only select medicine stores will be open, he said, adding the local administrations will decide on which pharmacies will continue to function.

Of the five COVID-19 cases detected in Odisha so far, four are in Bhubaneswar and one in Bhadrak.