PURI: From 288 to 514, Puri's daily COVID cases almost doubled in the last 24 hours, sending the district administration into a tizzy. The administration has been left baffled as the cases continue to surge despite Srimandir being out of bound for devotees and entry of visitors restricted to all important religious shrines.
Besides, tourists from states worst-hit by COVID have been restricted from entering the town while thermal screening and registration of visitors at Puri railway station are underway.
These apart, the administration is enforcing weekend shutdown on Saturdays and Sundays while night curfew is in force in urban areas of the district. However, there is no respite in sight from the mounting positive cases.
Fear and anxiety have gripped residents of Puri as hundreds of new positive cases are being detected daily from the town. A number of eminent personalities including lawyers have succumbed to the virus so far. Sources said residents are making a beeline for vaccination centres to get the jab but are forced to return in absence of doses.
With the coronavirus situation likely to get worse in Puri, the administration has readied a special Covid hospital with 150 beds with oxygen support including 40 ICU beds and four ventilators in Jagannath Medical College building.
The facility would run on PPP mode with Bhubaneswar-based SUM hospital managing the healthcare of COVID patients. The State government will provide logistic support. In view of the alarming situation, the traders' association of Puri town has decided to close all business establishments by 6 pm to prevent crowding and gathering at market places.
Residents irked over Bagala plot sale
Meanwhile, the district administration's fresh bid to sell plots of Bagala Dharmashala to lodge and hotel owners displaced during the demolition drive around Sri Jagannath temple has irked residents of Puri town.
Criticising the move, social activist Jagannath Bastia said the administration is trying to sell dharmashala plots though a PIL is listed for hearing in Orissa High Court on May 3. Earlier, Bastia had challenged the district administration’s decision to sell the land.