Odisha Channel Bureau
Bhubaneswar: Odisha Cabinet on Friday declared COVID-19 as a ‘disaster’ for the State under the provisions of Disaster Management Act, 2005 to adequately empower public officials to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Informing the State Assembly about the Cabinet decision, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that the Health & Family Welfare Department and its Directorates, as well as the Collectors and the Municipal Commissioners have been authorised for making emergency procurement of necessary drugs and consumables, equipment and other required services etc. as are necessary to prevent, contain 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.
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 the spread of COVID-19 in the State, said Patnaik.
The COVID-19 Odisha Regulations, 2020 have been approved, the Chief Minister told the House.
He further informed that 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.
The experience of China and Singapore and Italy has given us learning on what to do and what not to do.
“I must confess the entire world is on a learning curve about handling this disaster.
This is where it is very important that the four and half crore Odias join together and help us in managing the situation. Each one of us has a responsibility to ourselves, to our families and to the communities we live in,” said Patnaik.
He said that the only effective measure so far has been social distancing. “All of us should ruthlessly practice social distancing.”
• All educational institutions shall remain closed till 31.03.2020 except for holding examinations.
• Non-essential official gatherings such as seminars, workshops, conferences are to be cancelled.
• Social gatherings and assemblies like religious functions, marriage receptions, parties etc. are to be regulated by local authorities.
• Cinema Halls, swimming pools and gyms are to be closed till 31.03.2020.
Just keep interactions to the most essential levels and even in that take all precautions.
Being at home, reducing social interactions and avoiding gatherings will cut down the vulnerability to a great extent.
Another important practice is frequent hand washing and strict sanitisation protocols.
Sneezing and coughing etiquette to be followed as is being widely published.
“My personal appeal to you is – This is an opportunity for Odias to stop spitting Paan,” added the Chief Minister.
He urged the MLAs to take personal care of themselves and at the same time provide inspiring leadership in your Constituencies.
“I appeal to every section of the society to behave in the most responsible manner. Rumour mongering, misinformation and irresponsible conduct will be dealt with very sternly,” he said.
Patnaik observed that very few times in the history of the world have human beings as a race faced challenges beyond their comprehension.” With advances in science, this phenomenon has become a rarity. However, the last 45 days has seen human beings as a race facing one of the biggest challenges of the century.
“We are faced with a threat that does not discriminate between developed countries and under developed countries between democratic or non-democratic countries. Rich and poor societies all are equally vulnerable.
UK’s Health Minister, the first family of Canada, Senators in the US, Half of Iran’s Cabinet, major Movie stars, Sportspersons – the virus has not spared any one, said Patnaik.
“This extra ordinary circumstance calls for an extra ordinary response. This response cannot be only at the individual, Government or Sectoral level. 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.”