New Delhi: Amid the nationwide lockdown, the Odisha government on Thursday said it will set up the largest hospital in the country to treat COVID-19 patients. With 1,000 beds, the hospital will be functional in a fortnight, the government said in a statement. Also Read - Lockdown Day 2 Updates: Total Cases in Maharashtra Rise to 130, 35 Private Labs Given Nod to Conduct COVID-19 Tests

Notably, Odisha will be the first state in the country to set up such a large-scale hospital exclusively to treat COVID-19 patients. Also Read - Coronavirus: 40% of Odisha, Including Capital Bhubaneswar, to be on Week-Long Shutdown From March 22

To put the mechanism into processing, a tripartite agreement has been signed between the Odisha government and Corporates, and Medical Colleges to set up the hospital. Also Read - First Confirmed Case of Novel Coronavirus Reported in Odisha

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had announced four months’ advance salary for doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff with an objective to boost the morale of the health personnel engaged in the fight against COVID-19 in the state.

“The doctors, nurses and all health personnel across the state will receive their salaries for the months of April, May, June and July in the month of April,” the CM said in a video message.

Appreciating the commitment of the health personnel, Patnaik said, “There is no comparison of your (doctors, nurses and other staff) selfless service to the people. I and the people of Odisha are with you and your families. I salute your spirit.”

Urging people to treat doctors and hospital staff with respect and affection, he said, “Don’t create hurdles for the doctors and hospital staff while they are working hard. We should all appreciate their dedicated service to the people.”

On the other hand, the Family and Welfare department of the state has also decided to appoint doctors, nurses and paramedical staff, including retired persons, on a contractual basis in different state-run hospitals amid the coronavirus outbreak.

IN another development, the state government intensified implementation of social distancing in its fight against COVID-19, and decided that dhabas (eateries) and garages adjacent to the state and national highways will remain open during the lockdown.

The move has been taken to facilitate seamless movement of essential goods and keep the supply chain intact, an official said on Thursday.

In the state, at least 37 cases have been registered for violation of nationwide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, while five cases were slapped for flouting home quarantine rules.