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Mamata extends lockdown in Bengal till July 31

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced the extension of lockdown in Bengal till July 31 as the rate of COVID-19 cases is showing an upward graph in the country.

Banerjee made the announcement following the all-party meeting over the present pandemic situation and aftermath of Super Cyclone Amphan. Leaders of 11 political parties including Trinamool Congress, BJP, CPI(M), Congress and Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) were present. Speaker Biman Bandyopadhyay also attended the three-hour-long meeting held at Nabanna Sabhaghar on Wednesday.

"We have discussed the issues related to the extension of lockdown with all the political parties. Some suggested extension by another 15 days while some raised questions on the decision of imposing lockdown with just four days time after the announcement. Finally, the state government has decided to extend the lockdown so that we can help the country in bringing down the rate of COVID-19 cases," Banerjee said.

While speaking about relaxations, the Chief Minister said the set relaxations will be in place. The educational institutions will remain closed till July 31 as it has already been announced. But, examinations of the three remaining subjects can be conducted maintaining physical distancing.

"The state government employees will continue to attend office in a scattered manner as they are doing at present," Banerjee said.

Stating that the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere, the Chief Minister maintained that all have stressed upon proper treatment of non-Covid patients as well besides those suffering from the virus. Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha has been directed to prepare a guideline to ensure a fee structure for private hospitals so that patients cannot be charged exorbitantly. At the same time, she said both state-run and private hospitals should not neglect in providing treatment to critical presents on the pretext of COVID-19 as several deaths have taken place for this reason.

Following discussions in the all-party meeting, Banerjee announced placing order for another three crore masks to distribute among ASHA and ICDS workers. More laboratories for swab tests will be set up including at the Hills.

She also urged owners of private buses to operate their vehicles without remaining adamant on their demands to hike fare at this critical time of lockdown when people are already facing an array of issues.

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