COVID-19: Odisha announces closure of schools from Jan. 7 to Feb. 1

We are at the threshold of a new dangerous wave, says official

The Odisha government on Wednesday announced closure of schools up to Standard XII after the daily COVID-19 cases jumped by 78.82% in 24 hours.

As per the new guidelines, which would remain in force from January 7 to February 1, all schools and colleges up to XII would be closed.

“However, all such educational institutes are encouraged to organise online video method of teaching and learning for Class X and XII students. The institutes can organise classes to clear doubts in small batches with the consent of parents by observing due protocols,” it says.

All examinations including summative tests would continue while the anganwadi centres will be shut down.

Sudden spike

“We are at the threshold of a new dangerous wave of COVID-19. The Omicron variant is three times more transmissible than Delta. In the last four to five days, Odisha has seen sudden spike in COVID-19 cases. Five days ago, the State was recording a little over 200 cases per day. Now it touched 1,200-mark,” said Pradeep Kumar Jena, State’s Special Relief Commissioner.

The State has tried to strike a balance between precautions and the livelihood of the people, said Mr. Jena.

All shops, malls and shopping complexes would remain open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.. Only fully vaccinated persons would be allowed to enter market complexes. At no point, more than four buyers should be allowed per 100 sq. ft. of shop space, says the guideline.

Large gatherings would be prohibited. Political, sports and academic functions would be allowed with a ceiling of 100 persons. Marriages and social functions should not have more than 100 persons. Funerals, last rites and related gatherings with approval from local authorities should be allowed with a ceiling of 50 persons.

The State reported 1,216 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday registering 78.82% rise in 24 hours. Similarly, 24 cases of Omicron infections were detected taking the tally to 61.

On Tuesday, 680 cases were reported from the State with Khordha district remaining the epicentre as 456 persons were found to be infected comprising 37.5% of the caseload.

Sundargarh followed Khordha with 166 cases. Other districts where cases were rising rapidly include Sambalpur, Jajpur, Cuttack, Mayurbhanj and Jharsuguda. Kandhamal is the only district which has not reported any new case in the past few days. It also does not have any active cases.

For the first time since August second week, the daily cases have gone past 1,200. The total cases have stood at 10,57,876 and the toll at 8,466 with two more deaths.

Though the State recorded a sudden spike, the Omicron cases have remained at 37. Most of these patients are asymptomatic.

Not an exception

“The sudden spike in the daily cases is not an exception. The rise corresponds to the growth in the caseload of other States. The transmission is very fast. If the positivity rate jumps from 0.1% to 3.8% in New Delhi, we should be rest assured that the cases in Odisha will climb proportionately. In two days, the State’s positivity rate has gone past 1%,” said Bijay Mohapatra, Director of Health.

“One cannot limit the COVID-19 cases. We are, however, trying to break the transmission chain in the community. Though the severity of the Omicron variant is low and the infected people don’t require hospitalisation as was felt in the second wave, we are trying to ready hospital beds and intensive care units as soon as possible,” he said.

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