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Identify symptomatic people, ramp up testing: Abhijit’s suggestions to Mamata

During the interaction with Mamata, Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee suggested that the state use its network to survey groups of people with fever or cough, followed by rapid testing and isolation.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | Updated: April 8, 2020 2:22:11 am
Coronavirus pandemic, rapid testing, Abhijit Banerjee, Mamta Banerjee, novel coronavirus, COVID-19, indian express news Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Left Front leaders at the state secretariat in Kolkata on Tuesday. (Express photo)

Identifying symptomatic people from high-risk zones and ramping up state’s efforts for rapid testing: These are among suggestions by Nobel laureate and economist Abhijit Binayak Banerjee to fight the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The inputs were shared during a during a video conference call with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Abhijit was on Tuesday appointed as the chairman of an eight-member advisory committee, which was formed by the state government in its fight against the pandemic.

During the interaction with Mamata, the economist suggested that the state use its network to survey groups of people with fever or cough, followed by rapid testing and isolation.

The chief minister welcomed the suggestions and said, “This is a very good suggestion. We have already trained our Asha workers. We will soon start a mobile application which can be used to send messages.”

Abhijit also advised that the government stress the importance of hygiene, wearing masks in public places. He also said that hand sanitisers or soap should be made available at the entry and exit points of markets.

In reply, Mamata promised to implement these suggestions.

Besides Abhijit, other committee members are: Swarup Sarkar, former regional director of WHO; Tom Frieden, former chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in US; Jishnu Das, economist at World Bank); J V R Prasad Rao, former health secretary at the Central government; Siddhartha Dubey, communication specialist of UNAIDS; Sukumar Mukherjee, medical specialist; and Abhijit Chowdhury, public health specialist). Abhijit Chowdhury has been named the convener of the committee.

Left leaders meet CM

A Left Front delegation on Tuesday met Chief Minister Mamata and placed 17 demands in connection with the state government’s efforts to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Left demanded relief for unorganised sector employees, and daily-wage labourers. “The government should announce a financial package for the unorganised, contractual and daily wage labourers,” it said in a letter submitted to Banerjee. “Those who are eligible for allowances, they should be given three months’ allowance at a time,” it added.

The delegation asked the government to pressurise proprietors of small, and medium enterprises that have closed due to the lockdown to pay workers their salaries. The delegation led by Left Front chairperson Biman Basu also asked the CM to provide an appropriate financial package to farmers, and waive the electricity bills of people. The Left leaders also asked the government to ensure the proper distribution of essential commodities and medicines, and manage their prices by checking black marketing.

Dhankhar urges CM, MLAs to take pay cut

Kolkata: Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday appealed to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, state ministers, and MLAs to take a 30 percent pay cut for a year to boost the government’s effort to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a tweet, the Governor pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Ministers and MPs were taking a similar pay cut.

“PM, MPs, Union Ministers take 30 percent pay cuts for a year to COVID-19 efforts. The President, VP and Governors also take 30 per cent pay cuts for a year. Appeal MLAs and Ministers in West Bengal and Mamata Banerjee to take 30 percent pay cut for a year to boost government’s COVID-19 efforts,” Dhankhar said.

On Monday, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Cabinet had approved an ordinance amending the Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954.

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