Villages in Odisha hit by superspreaders

As the total number of Covid-19 cases crossed 10,000 in Odisha on Tuesday with sample positivity rate going past 10, the role of super-spreaders has the state government concerned.

On Tuesday, Sundargarh district reported 51 cases, of which 49 were infected by a 66-year-old auto driver who had returned from Jharkhand last month. Officials said the man with acute respiratory illness had arrived on June 16 and stayed at the Rourkela Steel Plant. Though he was supposed to be in home quarantine, he had met several people before he passed away on June 3.

However, they did not share details as to how a man, who should have been in home quarantine, ended up being a super spreader that turned Rourkela into a Covid hot spot and containment area by July 9.

In Bargarh, a 76-year-old retired teacher who was a money lender turned his village Katapali into a hot spot. He died of Covid-19 on June 18, but he had infected 105 persons by then. A diabetic, he was undergoing treatment at a private hospital when he tested positive on June 16.

“He infected his wife, son and granddaughter. Others in the village might also have contracted the virus from him…The administration has appealed to the villagers of Katapali not to venture out of their houses and follow the guidelines,” said Bargarh district collector Jyotiranjan Pradhan.

Like Katapali, in the southern district of Rayagada, a three-member family of migrant workers that returned from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu last month ended up infecting at least 90 people.

The family — a man, his wife and their daughter – had returned to their village Bijaypur and had stayed in institutional-quarantine for 14 days. During their home quarantine for seven days, the family allegedly did not adhere to prescribed norms and came in contact with several people in the village. “Rayagada did not have any Covid cases for a long time, and then iit had 90,” said Rayagada district collector Pramod Kumar Behera.

In Hatisalapada village of Baolangir, at least 39 positive cases have been detected so far after a couple of migrant workers flouted home quarantine guidelines. “As they went around meeting people, the infection spread. We were forced to announce the area as a containment zone,” said Bolangir district collector Arindam Dakua.

Similarly, in western Odisha district of Jharsuguda district, a super-spreader family returning from Gurugram ended up infecting 17 persons through birthday and wedding parties and turned the Brajarajnagar OMP area into a hot spot, said district collector Saroj Samal.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik said Odisha would follow a decentralised Covid-management strategy based on the suggestions received from district collectors, SPs and others. “At present, different departments, district administrators and senior officials of the government have been entrusted with specific responsibilities towards the management of Covid-19 in the state. We will take random feedback on special parameters from those admitted in Covid Care Centres and Covid hospitals,” he said.

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