Wary of COVID Surge, BMC, Police Step Up Mask Enforcement Drives
Rising COVID cases across the state, in what appears to be a second wave after a brief hiatus of a few months, have sounded alarm bells within the state administration. Bhubaneswar, the capital city, has particularly been a hub of recent infections. In a bid to check the bullish trend on COVID cases, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) along with the Odisha Police have stepped up mask enforcement drives across the city.
The joint action comes following Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s proposal of a 14-day mask drive. The BMC has formed three special squads and the police have also sensitised personnel manning PCR vans to reprimand those not wearing masks in the city. Surprise raids are being conducted by the squad members and spot checks are being conducted by the police to minimise violation rates.
“We have 500 police personnel engaged in the mask drive. People who don’t wear masks will be penalized. Also, policemen are checking whether the markets are overcrowded. In case they find unnecessary gatherings of people, they have been asked to disperse them with a warning,” said DCP Uma Shankar Das.
The heightened urgency to tighten compliance rates comes amidst a backdrop of rapidly spiralling cases. Bhubaneswar has been registering over a hundred new cases of infection every single day in the latest outbreak. Several experts have signalled the presence of multiple mutated variants of the virus, that have much more discrete tendencies and a higher reproduction factor, as a cause for the latest surge.
“We have asked the squads not to be lenient on violators. We have sealed six places — four educational institutions, one hostel and the convention centre of a hotel — for violating Covid norms. The squads will go for random checks and penalise violators on the spot,” said BMC nodal officer (Covid management) Suvendu Sahu.