Odisha declares COVID-19 'disaster', earmarks Rs 200 cr to combat coronavirus threat

Odisha government has also announced the closure of educational institutions in the state till March 31, except for holding examinations amid coronavirus scare.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday 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.

The government also declared COVID-19 as a "disaster", the chief minister said in a statement in the State Assembly in Bhubaneswar.

"The Cabinet met this morning and declared COVID-19 as a 'disaster' for the state under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to adequately empower our public officials to combat the spread of the disease," Patnaik said.

He said an amount of Rs 200 crore has been earmarked to augment the Public Health Response Fund to combat the threat of the pandemic and for making the required expenditure.

Non-essential official gatherings such as seminars, workshops, and conferences are to be cancelled, he said, adding, social gatherings and assemblies like religious functions, marriage receptions, and parties are to be regulated by local authorities.

Cinema halls, swimming pools, and gyms in the state are to be closed till March 31, Patnaik said.

He said the health and family welfare department and its directorates, as well as the collectors and the municipal commissioners have been authorised for making emergency procurement of necessary drugs, consumables, and equipment to prevent and contain the spread of the disease.

Some of the biggest companies are taking several measures to ease the concerns of their employees regarding coronavirus and making the workplaces safe.

The Delhi government too has bannes all sports gatherings, including the Indian Premier League 2020, in the national capital amid the coronavirus threat, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Friday.

Delhi has so far reported six cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

Social networking giant Facebook has halted all non-essential travel to China of its staff to protect the health and safety of its employees. The company also asked employees who had recently travelled to China to work from home for a period as caution.

Both Facebook and Google have cancelled their developer conferences, called F8 and I/O, respectively, due to concerns over the spread in large gatherings.

(Edited by Suman Singh)


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