Mamata Banerjee (Photo Credit: File photo)
The West Bengal government will impose a 14-day 'total lockdown' in 10 hotspots from where several COVID-19 cases have been reported, chief secretary Rajiva Sinha said on Saturday. Though the chief secretary did not name the areas, he said local markets and all roads in those areas will be completely shut down, and no one will be allowed to enter or step out of their homes.
"Areas from where there is high possibility of the spread of the disease we are calling them hotspots. We are not naming them... We will be imposing total lockdown...This measure will cause more inconvenience to people but we have no choice... We have to impose total lockdown as we don't want the cases to spread like wildfire," Sinha said.
"Stricter protocol will be in place in these areas. The administration will arrange for everything like food, water, and even medical support," the chief secretary said. An official in the state secretariat said district and civic authorities have been instructed to start "total lockdown" in these places from Saturday night. When asked about the hotspots and clusters in West Bengal, the state's top bureaucrat referred to Alipore, Bhawanipore, Mudiali, Burrabazar, Nayabad, Dumdum, Salt Lake, Ultadanga and Belghoria in the city.
Parts of North and South 24 Parganas district, Howrah's Mallick Fatak area, Foreshore road, Rajballabh Saha Lane, Salkia and areas around the Howrah district hospital have been identified as the COVID-19 hotspots and clusters, he said. "The entire areas of Kalimpong, Tehatta (Nadia district), Egra (Purba Medinipur), Haldia also come under these hotspots and they will be entirely locked down," he said, without specifying which other areas he had mentioned will be under complete lockdown.
According to the directive, lockdown will be imposed in the hotspots and areas around themthe buffer zone-to ensure zero spread of the disease. A branch of a public sector bank in south Kolkata was sealed on Friday after the mother of an official tested positive for the coronavirus. Branch officials and other staff have been sent on quarantine. The report of complete lockdown in some parts of the state led to panic buying as people in large numbers queued outside shops to stock up essential commodities in Dum Dum, Nagerbazar, Bhawanipore and Alipore.
The state government is also planning to conduct rapid tests in the hotspots. The administration will also disinfect these places with sodium hypochlorite, he said. West Bengal has recorded five deaths and 116 COVID-19 cases so far. There are 89 active cases, while 22 people have recovered.