The Odisha Government on Friday declared COVID-19 as a 'disaster' under the provisions of Disaster Management Act, 2005 to adequately empower public officials to combat the spread of coronavirus. CM Naveen Patnaik said the government has earmarked Rs 200 crore to combat the coronavirus threat in the state and announced the closure of educational institutions in the state till March 31 except for holding examinations.
"We are faced with a threat that does not discriminate between developed countries and underdeveloped countries between democratic or non-democratic countries. Rich and Poor societies all are equally vulnerable," Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in a statement. "Each one of us in Odisha has to rise to the occasion and be responsible. In the absence of any vaccine or treatment, our collective responsibility is the only hope we have, to fight this epidemic," he added.
Patnaik urged the people to remain calm but not complacent. "We must remain prepared, but not panic," he said. He further announced that an amount of Rs 200 crore has been earmarked to augment the Public Health Response Fund to combat the threat of the pandemic. "The experience of China and Singapore and Italy has given us learning on what to do and what not to do. I must confess the entire world is on a learning curve about handling this disaster," the Chief Minister added.
He urged the public to join hands in managing the situation. "This is where it is very important that the four and a half crore Odias join together and help us in managing the situation. Each one of us has a responsibility to ourselves, to our families and to the communities we live in," he said.
The Chief Minister had earlier announced that all educational institutions shall remain closed till March 31, except for holding examinations. Non-essential official gatherings such as seminars, workshops, conferences have also been canceled. Social gatherings and assemblies like religious functions, marriage receptions, parties etc. are to be regulated by local authorities. Cinemas, swimming pools and gyms will also remain closed till March 31.