Cyclone Yaas: Odisha’s Villagers Fear Catching Covid-19 At Shelters

Ahead of Cyclone Yaas, the Odisha government has been evacuating people from the coastal districts which have a high probability of being affected. During the evacuation process, a large number of people were reluctant to leave their homes in the fear of catching Covid-19. Villagers from the coastal districts of Balasore and Bhadrak said that they would move to the cyclone shelters only as a last resort.

“Before the cyclone, we were confined to our homes due to the lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19. But with the cyclone approaching, now everyone will be in the cyclone shelters where there will be a high chance of getting infected. It is very difficult to ensure social distancing and the use of masks in shelters. So, we will move to a safer place only when we feel a threat to our lives”, said Kanhu Charan Swain, a resident of Kalamatia village in Balasore district.

Several villagers are waiting to assess the wind speed before deciding on moving to cyclone shelters.

“We have seen several cyclones earlier. As per the IMD prediction, Cyclone Yaas will make landfall at noon on Wednesday. The cyclone shelter is at a distance of 10-12 km from our village. How can we leave our domestic animals behind? Besides, there is fear of Covid-19 at the shelters where people from other villages would also be staying”, said Bichitrananda Sahu, a resident of Chudamani village in Bhadrak district.

Meanwhile, Balasore sub-collector Nilu Mohapatra says Covid-19 guidelines are being followed at cyclone shelters. “Our staff have been pursuing people to shift to cyclone shelters and all have been asked to ensure Covid-19 guidelines are maintained at the centres,” said Mohapatra.

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