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The Odisha Model – How the Corona Virus pandemic should have been tackled in India

On March 13, 2020, when COVID 19 started spreading its fangs in India, most of the state governments continued their day-to-day routines as usual. They were totally unaware of the huge impact that the virus would be having on the nation in the immediate future. Media was also aloof – that particular day they were busy playing the political turmoil in Madhya Pradesh.

The same was not true for Odisha – Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had already foreseen the impact that this pandemic would be having and was already busy contemplating the firm and immediate actions that would be needed in tackling the same. This man had already exhibited exemplary fortitude in disaster management as had been seen when he decided to and evacuated almost 10 Lakh people before an impending Cyclonic storm. Thereby, he saved maximum human lives though property damage wasn’t within his control. He had also been appreciated by the United Nations for this remarkable action.

On 13th March 2020, Naveen Patnaik had steeled himself for an impending long battle against COVID 19. His first act, on that day, was suspension of the Legislative Assembly till 29th March and declaring Coronavirus a State Disaster in Odisha under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. The opposition was in chagrin and the media shocked by the sudden action of his. Before this initial shock could wear off, he closed all educational institutions till 31st March, which has hence been continuously extended. An initial allocation of Rs. 200 crores was also made to fight the pandemic. This man clearly believed in Prevention rather than Cure.

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A strong bureaucratic team was appointed under him and the state of Odisha set forth many examples that were replicated much later in the national spectrum. Some of them are:

 

  1. A first lockdown of three major hubs – Bhubaneshwar, Cuttack and Bhadrak to prevent community transmission.

 

  1. It extended the lockdown in the state much before it was contemplated nationwide.

 

  1. Usage of Face masks was made compulsory first in the state of Odisha.

 

  1. First to start a 1000 bed stand-alone hospital for treating COVID 19 patients – Number of beds had already been increased to 6,000 before April end.

 

  1. It was the first state to make registration of all foreign returned individuals and make them home quarantined with Rs. 15,000 being paid to all such persons, who registered themselves on the COVID 19 portal that he had set up.

 

  1. Healthcare staff were provided 4 months’ salary in advance, old aged persons received advance pension of 4 months, students got 4 months scholarships in advance and people eligible under PDS got 3 months rice issued to them.

 

  1. Under his women empowerment Mission Shakti scheme, 70 Lakh women became his ‘Corona Warriors’ producing masks in mass scale, supplying essential commodities and providing meals for the destitute.

 

  1. When asymptomatic cases were on the rise, he announced door-to-door survey for 45 days starting 16th June for detection of cases and immediate action by concerned authorities.

 

The results are there for everyone to see. Odisha has less than half the mortality rate to COVID 19 in comparison to the National Average. The recovery rate is also significantly higher than the National Average. The growth rate of cases in Odisha is only 20% of that of the National Growth rate.

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The Odisha model under the guidance of the dynamic bachelor Naveen Patnaik, who considers the entire state population of the state as his extended family, has truly been epoch making. If only this had been replicated in the other Indian states this proactively, maybe the national picture could have been much different that what we are facing now.

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