BHUBANESWAR: A day after Dussehra, new Covid cases saw a sharp rise in the State, especially in coastal districts triggering fear of a rerun of the second wave of the pandemic. Although new infections were below 500, they went up to 443 in the last 24 hours from 358 the previous day. Sources said the infections soared by around 25 per cent despite around 20 per cent dip in testing. The number of tests came down from the targeted 70,000 a day to 55,000 on Saturday.
Khurda district accounted for 55 per cent of the fresh cases. As many as 243 cases, including 158 from Bhubaneswar, were reported from the district. Other districts where cases rose marginally are Cuttack, Mayurbhanj, Puri and Sundargarh.However, 11 districts, including Boudh, Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Keonjhar, Gajapati, Nuapada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri and Sonepur did not register any fresh case.
Highest vaccination coverage notwithstanding, Khurda continues to remain as a challenge for the administration as new cases keep hovering over 250 a day in the coastal district. Even as over 90 per cent of the population in Bhubaneswar has been fully vaccinated, the State capital tops the list of major cities with the same population in the country in terms of daily infection. The city has been recording 150 to 250 cases a day for the last around month baffling health experts.
“Bhubaneswar was the first city in the country to complete the vaccination of its targeted population. But surprisingly, the number of infections has not reduced proportionately. Varanasi with a population of around 23 lakh is detecting less than 20 cases a day. Why are the cases in Bhubaneswar so high? Where have we gone wrong? The containment strategy needs a relook,” said leading microbiologist and head of BHU lab Dr Tribhuban Mohan Mohapatra.
There has been no let up in Covid fatalities as well. Three more patients - one each in Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur and Sundergarh succumbed to the disease pushing the toll to 8,285. Meanwhile, worried over the average daily Covid cases, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to resume random testing of people in markets, hospitals and railway stations.
The civic body has planned to conduct at least 8,000 random tests daily. Admitting that the rise in cases in some areas is a cause of concern, Director of Health Services Dr Bijay Mohapatra said the impact of Covid norm violations during Dussehra would be known after a fortnight.