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Odisha’s Management of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Public Health Lessons

Odisha, in spite of a poor public health system, did well in managing the pandemic in the initial month. This is on account of three reasons. It drew from its now globally recognised swift disaster preparedness and management aimed at zero casualty. It adopted a proactive, as against reactive, course, which in itself is a difficult proposition in such an uncertain and dynamic scenario. It took lessons from success stories and challenges based on happenings elsewhere.

The global pandemic with its epicentre in Wuhan city, China, has not spared any country. Outside of China, some well-off countries like the United States (US) continue to see devastation with a spike in the number of deaths. Interestingly, three countries that have stood out with their success stories of flattening the curve are South Korea with its aggressive tracing of contacts, testing and treatment of positive cases (Park et al 2020), Taiwan that set in place an early recognition of the danger, use of technology to identify travel history and effective public engagement that also included personalised messages (Wang et al 2020), and Vietnam, where there was a four-tier quarantine with isolation of positive cases (Le 2020). India presents a grim picture. However, some states like Kerala and Odisha had done well, particularly in initial months.

The success in Kerala is being attributed to the coming together of people and government, a strong public health system, their social capital and also because of their recent experiences in addressing the Nipah outbreak and unprecedented floods of 2018 (Roy and Davé 2020; Isaac and Sadanandan 2020). In fact, an effective public health system is a common factor for Kerala as also for South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.

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Updated On : 5th Oct, 2020

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