Mamata urges people to abide by COVID-19 protocol

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Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday urged people to abide by the COVID-19 protocol and restrictions imposed by the state government to check the surge in the contagion and cautioned that the administration will opt for stricter norms if the rise in the pandemic is not controlled.

She asked the administration to make RT-PCR tests mandatory at the inter-state borders and directed the police to take stricter measures to handle those who are not following the COVID-19 protocol.

Banerjee said she will not come to the secretariat on Friday as both her drivers have tested positive.

The chief minister said she will, however, attend the inauguration of the second campus of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute by Prime Minister Narendra Modi through video conferencing from her office in Kalighat in the city.

The entire programme will be held virtually, the PMO said.

Banerjee, who was speaking to reporters in the virtual mode at the secretariat, said that all the important officers of her government, including city police commissioner Vineet Kumar Goyal, deputy commissioner of police (South) Akash Magharia are suffering from coronavirus. Her brother’s wife too has tested positive for the disease.

“The next 15 days will be very crucial. Take proper care of yourself as well as that of your near and dear ones. Try to use gloves, cover your head using a cap and maintain hygiene after returning home. Only then can we save ourselves,” she said.

Urging the people to follow the restrictions, Banerjee said “We have imposed the restrictions taking into account people’s lives and livelihood of the people. But if we see that despite all these restrictions the pandemic is still rising, we may opt in for stricter restrictions”.

She, however, did not elaborate on the RT-PCR tests but said people may be recruited temporarily for the purpose.

The chief minister said she has asked the police to be strict in handling the situation. There are some people who are not wearing masks and not listening to instructions even though they are aware of the situation. “We are encouraging working from home. Several important officers of our government have been affected by the disease … We are carrying out all our duties and also trying to ensure that the officers are in good health. We cannot let everyone fall sick,” she said.

Banerjee expressed displeasure over her brother moving around despite his wife testing positive for the disease. “I am very very offended and have asked him not to leave the house from tomorrow,” she said.

She said that 10,77,64,007 crores of vaccine doses have been administered in West Bengal but around 40 per cent of the population in the state are yet to get the second dose.

“We required another 14 crores of doses. But now with the vaccination programme for 15-18 year-olds and the proposed programme of booster dose we require a few more crores,” Banerjee said.

She said that 194 hospitals in the state have been identified to treat COVID-19 patients where at least 32,268 beds have been kept ready.

“Of them 19,517 beds are functional and 3,000 out of the 4,180 beds in CCUs and HDUs are operational,” she said.

A total 267 containment zones and 136 micro containment zones have been announced in the state, she added.

West Bengal reported 14,022 fresh cases of the contagion on Wednesday, according to the health department bulletin.

There are 33,042 active cases at the moment, it added.

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