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West Bengal CM hints at imposing fresh curbs

Addressing an administrative review meeting at Gangasagar in South 24 Parganas district on Wednesday, Banerjee asked top administrative officials to monitor the Covid-19 situation and take steps accordingly.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: December 30, 2021 4:33:35 am
(From left) CM Mamata Banerjee with Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi and Home Secretary BP Gopalika at the meeting in South 24 Parganas on Wednesday. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

As West Bengal on Wednesday reported five new Omicron cases and saw the biggest single-day jump in Covid 19 infections over the last one week , Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hinted at imposing fresh Covid-19 related curbs heading into the new year. These may include containment zones, closure of educational institutions and return to work from home.

Addressing an administrative review meeting at Gangasagar in South 24 Parganas district on Wednesday, Banerjee asked top administrative officials to monitor the Covid-19 situation and take steps accordingly.

“As the flow of people coming to Kolkata from outside is much more than the rest of the state, think about earmarking containment zones in the city. Conduct a ward-to-ward survey to find out where it is applicable. If need be, start announcing containment zones from January 3,” Banerjee told officials at the meeting.

Stressing the need to review the current Covid-19 situation in the state, the chief minister said, “If needed, ensure work from home for 50 per cent of (government) employees. Also consider reducing the number of local trains plying at present. We have to take precautions.”

Expressing concern over the spread of the new variant, Banerjee asked the school education secretary to consider shutting schools and colleges again. “Please monitor the Covid-19 situation. If you see that students are getting infected, we will think about closing schools and colleges. Focus on schools and colleges because we have to ensure protection of the students. If cases increase, we have to shut down the schools and colleges for some days,” Banerjee said.

The CM’s word of caution on students come in the wake of three students testing positive for Covid-19 at a private school in Raiganj in North Dinajpur district. The school shut down after the cases came to light. Banerjee, meanwhile, slammed the central government for allowing booster doses when many people are still awaiting their second dose of Covid-19 vaccines.

“The Centre has announced booster doses for a section of the population. It must focus on providing the second dose of Covid-19 vaccines before starting the booster dose programme. It must complete administering the second dose before giving the booster dose,” the CM said.

She added, “Since the omicron variant is spreading fast, we have to make it compulsory for people to wear masks and follow health protocols while heading out. There is no need to panic.”

Taking a dig at the CM over her comments on the booster dose, BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said, “It is not easy to provide vaccines to 130 crore people across the country free of cost.

“The central government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has done a commendable job in this regard. It has announced booster doses for those who have taken their second dose and it will be administered on a priority basis to health workers, Covid warriors and the elderly.”

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