Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha on Monday criticised the lockdown relaxations advised by the Centre, and said they would be applicable only to orange and green-zone districts. His remarks came on a day the COVID-19 toll in the state climbed to 61.
Orange zones are areas with no recent surge in positive cases, and green zones are districts where no cases have been reported in 21 days.
“We think in this process the lockdown will be diluted. But, the Central government ordered, and we are sympathetic to common people. So, we also decided to relax the restrictions in green and orange zones. In green zones, bus services may be restarted. But they cannot carry more than 20 passengers,” said the Chief Secretary.
Sinha told reporters that the state government would strictly enforce the lockdown going by containment zones. Shops selling non-essential goods will be allowed to function in non-containment localities, including those in districts designated as red zones, from 10 am to 6 pm.
Sinha said shopping malls, market complexes, and street vendors would not be allowed to open anywhere for now. Tea stalls can reopen, but no one will be permitted to sit there, he added.
Announcing a change in the format of reporting data about COVID-19 infections, Sinha said 11 more people had died of the disease, pushing up the toll to 61. The Chief Secretary said the state had recorded 1,259 positive cases till date, while the number of active cases stood at 908. A total 218 people have been discharged from hospitals after recovering from the disease, he added.
The Chief Secretary said “no migrant labourer will be allowed to exit from containment areas or enter it”. Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay told the press that there were some 516 containment areas in the state, with 318 of them in Kolkata, 74 in Howrah district, 81 in North 24 Parganas district, 18 in Hooghly district, nine and five in the districts of Purba Medinipur and Paschim Medinipur, three in Malda district, two each in Nadia and Darjeeling districts, and one each in South 24 Parganas, East Birbhum, Jalpaiguri, and Kalimpong.
“This process is dynamic and subject to change. So, we ordered all the District Magistrates to submit reports every day about the containment zones,” said Bandyopadhyay.
Asked about the repatriation of migrant labourers from West Bengal stuck in other states, Sinha said the government was allowing the entry of buses from neighbouring states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Sikkim. Two trains carrying such workers were on their way from Rajasthan and Kerala, he added.
Sinha said the government was talking to more states, and added that it was not easy to complete this process overnight.
“We have introduced an easy application system. After getting registered, a migrant labourer or tourist or any other person stranded in another state will get necessary passes,” said Alapan Bandyopadhyay.
Health Secretary Bibek Kumar said people coming from other states would be screened at entry points. “Asymptomatic people will be asked to go for 15 days home quarantine and symptomatic people’s swabs will be collected and on the spot decision will be taken by the doctors whether they will be sent to institutional quarantine or isolation,” he added.
Meanwhile, Rajiva Sinha said since Sunday evening 2,201 samples had been tested, taking the number of specimens examined till date to 25,116. At the moment, 4,860 people were in government quarantine, and 5,755 persons in home quarantine, he added.
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