First Covid-19 case in Bhubaneswar's biggest slum worries officials in Odisha

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Odisha saw the highest single-day recovery of 123 patients from Covid-19 on Friday taking the total recoveries to 1,604. However, the discovery of 13 new infections from Bhubaneswar, including one from the city’s largest slum, added to the state’s worries.

On Friday, 123 patients recovered from the coronavirus disease. The recovered include 35 from the virus epicentre Ganjam district and 22 from Cuttack.

The total number of Covid-19 cases in the state surged to 2,608 with 130 new cases, including 22 in Khurda and Mayurbhanj districts each.

The state lauded the health staff and volunteers for the spike in recoveries. “This has been possible due to the untiring efforts of all Covid hospitals, doctors, nurses, paramedics, ANMs, ASHAs, Anganwadi workers, teachers, Sarpanches and support staff including community health volunteers, as well as the police and administrative staff involved,” the health department said in a tweet.

However, the celebration was short-lived as 13 new cases were reported from Bhubaneswar after a long time. Of these, seven were in home quarantine with travel history to Delhi, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and West Bengal while others were local contacts. One of the cases was reported from Salia Sahia, the biggest slum in Bhubaneswar with a population of over one lakh.

Known as ‘Mini Odisha’ in Bhubaneswar for having people from all the districts of the state, Salia Sahi is a huge unauthorised slum that supplies most of the menial workers to apartments and commercial establishments such as hotel, restaurants and educational institutions. It has about 9,000 households staying in shanties spread over 250 acres of land.

Officials said like Dharavi slum of Mumbai where cases spread like wildfire, the detection of the first case in Salia Sahi was an ominous sign. Bhubaneswar has over 450 slums of which more than 300 are unauthorised.

In March and April, Bhubaneswar reported a high number of cases, however, the numbers went down following identification of containment zones and strict lockdown measures. The city has so far reported 81 cases and four deaths due to the Covid-19 infection.

Since people began flouting social distancing norms after the lockdown restrictions were eased, the state government announced weekend shutdowns in Bhubaneswar and 11 other districts from June 6 onwards to contain the spread of the disease.

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