While West Bengal has not reported any positive Covid-19 case till now, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced to create a Rs 200-crore fund corpus and invoking of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, to tackle the impending coronavirus outbreak. She also extended closure of all educational institutions from March 31 to April 15, and advised closure of cinema halls, multiplex and auditorium for the next two weeks.
Urging people to not panic, the Chief Minister, who held a high-level meeting with state and central government officials to review the situation here on Monday, said that decision to invoke Epidemic Diseases Act was taken as people who have shown symptoms of coronavirus are refusing to be kept in isolation. “Many states have already invoked the law (Epidemic Diseases Act). But we initially did not want to invoke. The decision was taken to do so after 10 persons, who have been kept in isolation for suspected coronavirus infection, refused to stay quarantined and asked the district magistrate why they are being kept in isolation,” the CM told mediapersons.
“This is being done to ensure that no one can flee without completing treatment. We will use it in in the interest of public health and safety,” she added.
According to the CM, 3.24 lakh people have been screened in West Bengal, so far. “Out of which, we are still monitoring the condition of 5,589 people. While 59 had shown symptoms, the results of 58 came negative. The result of one is still pending,” the CM said.
On extending the closure of all education institutes, Mamata said: “Studies show that the coronavirus disease is spreading mainly in the third week and fourth week. So, we decided to extend the closure of all educational institutions till April 15,” adding that all ICDS centre will also be closed till the same period. “Within that period, food for the children will be sent to their houses,” she said.
However, the Chief Minister said that her government was not in favour of imposing Section 144 of the CrPC that prohibits assembly of four or more persons. “I can only advise. We will not impose (CrPC Section 144). But, I am sure that people will avoid any type of gathering,” she said.
The government plans to buy two lakh “anti-virus dresses”, two lakh surgical masks, two lakh N95 masks for medical and para-medical personnel. Other than that, 10,000 thermal guns and 300 ventilators will be purchased with the Rs 200-crore fund, she sad. The government has also decided to introduce 5 lakh insurance policy for those who are engaged in tackling coronavirus, including medical, para-medical staff, sweepers and police personnel.
The situation will be reviewed on March 30, the Chief Minister said.
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