The West Bengal government said on Friday that “9-10” coronavirus disease (Covid-19) hotspots have been identified in the state, including one in the state capital of Kolkata and another in the twin town of Howrah, but refused to name any of them as “a matter of principle”.
Bengal chief secretary Ravija Sinha made the statement a day after chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that all Covid-19 cases are restricted to seven zones in the state. She, too, had refused to name these areas. The state has reported five Covid-19 deaths and 89 people have tested positive so far, Sinha said. Altogether, 2,095 people have been tested for SARS-Cov-2, which causes Covid -19, to date, the chief secretary added.
“We have identified 9-10 hotspots. Complete lockdown will be maintained in these hotspots. The state will, however, ensure the supply of food and essential commodities for people living in these containment zones,” Sinha said.
The chief secretary reiterated that only a panel of doctors has been empowered to declare Covid-19 related deaths in the state.
“A committee of doctors conducts the audit of Covid-19 related deaths. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) or other civic bodies are not authorised to reveal deaths linked to Covid-19,” said Sinha, indirectly referring to a purported KMC record that went viral in social media mentioning 10 deaths related to the viral outbreak.
The chief secretary refused to identify the hotspots as “a matter of principle because that may lead to social and administrative problems”. But he mentioned Kolkata and Howrah figure on the list of hotspots and the local administrations are on high alert.
“We’ve taken all the necessary steps such as barricading roads, closing down markets and shifting them to safer locations, barring entry of outsiders and urging local residents to remain indoors,” he said.
“We are identifying clusters where several people in an area have been affected. If more people around a cluster test Covid-19 positive, we’re marking the bigger area as a hotspot,” Sinha added.
Sinha weighed in on the discrepancies in the state and Central government’s data on Covid-19 positive cases and death toll figures. “I think the state health department is reporting the figures faithfully. Those who’ve doubts can clarify from the health department. It’s unfortunate if one government starts doubting another,” he said.
“Besides, this is not the opportune time to make a distinction between state and Central governments. We’re all stakeholders in this pandemic,” the chief secretary said.
The Bengal government has bought 25,6100 personal protective equipment (PPE) units, including 188,550 N-95 masks and 559,000 pairs of gloves for health workers and doctors, Sinha said, adding that the number of quarantine centres has also been increased to 582.
“Altogether, 44,474 people were put under home quarantine. We’re keeping a strict vigil on these people to ensure zero movement outside their homes,” he added.