With the Covid-19 cases in the state rising rapidly, the Odisha government on Friday doubled the penalty to Rs 1,000 for not wearing masks in public places as the state’s tally crossed the 31,000-mark.
Chief secretary Asit Tripathy said those found not wearing face masks or spitting in public places will be fined Rs 1,000 for the first violation while for the second and further violations, the penalty will be Rs 5,000. The penalty amount was Rs 500 for the first-time offence and Rs 1,000 for the subsequent ones.
Tripathy, however, did not clarify how the government would keep track of the second and subsequent violations.
The government also announced lifting of lockdown in four Covid hotspot districts of Ganjam, Khurda, Cuttack, Japur and Rourkela Municipal Corporation. However, the chief secretary said that congregation at public places will be strictly prohibited. In case of closed spaces, if offices, establishments, market complexes and shops are found violating physical distancing norms, a fine of Rs 10,000 will be imposed and the establishment will be sealed for a week. For further offences, a fine of Rs 10,000 and sealing for one month will be imposed, he said.
In marriage functions where social distancing is violated and more than 50 persons are found attending the function, a fine of Rs 10,000 will be imposed.
The state’s Covid-19 tally crossed the 31,000-mark on Friday with 1,499 new cases reported in 24 hours. Eight more deaths from the disease took the toll to 177, news agency PTI reported quoting a health department official.
The total number of novel coronavirus patients in the state now stands at 31,877.
The government said sample collection, isolation and testing would be the norm as the cases continued to increase. The state would add 6 more testing labs at Angul, Puri, Kalahandi, Jharsuguda, Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts from August 1 and at least 20,000 Covid tests will be conducted everyday, Institute of Life Sciences director Ajay Parida said.
Of the 20,000 tests, 8,000 will be RT-PCR tests and the remaining 12,000 will be antigen tests, he added. Currently, all the districts have more than 3,000 antigen kits each.
However, Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik on Friday demanded that the state should test at least 25, 000 samples every day to bring the situation under control. “If the government fails to take quick steps to tackle the situation, there is a likelihood of the state witnessing community transmission of novel coronavirus. The Covid-19 situation is really grim in the state,” the PCC chief said. “Discussions should be held with political parties, social organisations and experts to strengthen the battle against the pandemic,” he said.
Meanwhile, chief minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the third plasma bank at Rourkela on Friday and said the state has collected 70 units of plasma in a fortnight for the treatment of critically ill Covid-19 patients.
Patnaik, who inaugurated the plasma bank at Ispat General Hospital in Rourkela through video conferencing, said eight patients have so far been discharged from hospitals in the state after being cured of coronavirus through plasma therapy, PTI reported.
(With inputs from PTI)