No lockdown; state taking steps to combat surge: Mamata
Malda: Maintaining that there is nothing to "unnecessarily panic" as the state government is taking all steps to combat the pandemic, outgoing Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ruled out the possibility of imposing "lockdown" on an immediate basis in the state.
Addressing an urgently called Press conference, Banerjee detailed the steps the Bengal government has taken to combat the pandemic situation saying that "we are well-prepared to tackle the second wave of the Covid pandemic as we did the last time. So there is nothing to get much worried".
Urging people to dial round-the-clock helpline number — 1800313444222 — for any help, Banerjee said: "We are not considering imposing lockdown right now. No one knows what would be the situation tomorrow and the decision to impose lockdown depends on the situation. Will lockdown solve all problems? Lockdown has been imposed in Delhi. But we have to give time to the people. Moreover, everything is operating and people are moving from one place to another freely with trains, buses and flight services remaining operational. Even outsiders are coming to the state to construct makeshift hangers for Prime Minister's rallies."
Taking a dig at the Centre for not giving any reply to her Sunday's letter seeking vaccine doses and medicines, Banerjee said: "I am holding the Press conference as the Chief Minister in this emergency situation and would like to urge people not to panic. Around 2,000 out of all who have got affected in the past few days have comorbidities and are being treated as serious patients. Vaccine doses and medicines are not available in the market. The Centre basically supplies it to us. I wrote to the Prime Minister for oxygen, medicines and vaccine doses... But I'm yet to get a reply."
Earlier in the day, Banerjee had tweeted: "With the massive surge in #COVID19 cases across India, GoWB is taking all necessary steps to protect its people. I've reached out to PM to help us with additional medicines and vaccines required. I have also directed all the top officials to make elaborate arrangements & step up their efforts at every level to deal with #COVID19 situation in WB."
Expressing her concern, she tweeted on Monday evening: "Just got the news that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Ji has tested positive for COVID. Sir, our thoughts and prayers for a speedy and full recovery."
The state government has increased 1,000 beds in the past four to five days. Another 4,500 beds will be increased in the next three to four days.
As many as 100 state-run and ECI hospitals have been earmarked for Covid treatment besides the 58 private hospitals. In Kolkata and its surrounding areas, another 100 beds — in addition to the existing 3,200 — will be arranged in the next few days, Banerjee said adding that "there are 200 safe homes with 11,000 beds. We are not getting all the places like Gitanjali Stadium, etc as those have been taken by the Election Commission (EC) for polling purposes. We have allowed satellite centres at hospitals and hotels". Around 20 percent more beds have been kept ready compared to last time.
As only critical patients are sent to hospitals, Banerjee urged authorities of all private hospitals to ensure the availability of beds for those who actually need them instead of keeping them unnecessarily occupied in this emergency situation.
Around 400 ambulances have been deployed to provide free-of-cost services for Covid patients and doctors are attending patients through telemedicine.
In connection with public rallies, Banerjee said: "I have curtailed my programmes as charity begins at home. I will be attending a rally only on the last day of the campaign in Kolkata, which is on April 26. The rest of the meetings will be much curtailed to avoid large gatherings."
Once again urging the EC to club the seventh and the last phase of polling in the state, she said the administration is now engaged in poll-related activities and they cannot give enough time in the fight against the pandemic. "So, the sooner it gets over, the better it is," Banerjee said urging Madhyamik and Higher Secondary examinees not to worry as schools are getting closed from Tuesday with preponement of the summer vacation.
Equivocating her counterparts from Rajasthan and Delhi — who alleged of "diverting medicines to other states", Banerjee said: "We haven't got the same too. Maybe, they are getting diverted to other places." Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and Health Secretary N S Nigam called on Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and discussed the present Covid situation in the state, including the need to arrange vaccine doses and medicines. According to sources in BJP, the party on Monday decided not to hold any further big public meetings in Bengal and Modi, along with other leaders, would also address small gatherings that would not have more than 500 people.