The Covid-19 graphs of Kolkata and Howrah show a sharp rise, with fresh cases doubling every four days, Banerjee said, calling for a “bottom-up approach — with the information and suggestions coming from the grassroots — instead of a top-down mechanism”.
Fresh cases doubling every four days fit the Centre’s definition of a “Red Zone”.
The chief minister pressed the alarm button especially for select zones in Howrah (where the density of active Covid-19 patients is high) and rolled out comprehensive micro-level plans via video-conference with district magistrates and superintendents of police. “Cordon off the sensitive zones to regulate entry and exit. Deploy police in all Howrah markets. You can also set up armed police outposts in front of markets, if necessary. Don’t allow more than five people in markets. Wearing of masks is mandatory, and people going to the market have to sanitise their hands during entry and exit,” she said, urging the cops to utilise local clubs and Puja committees in the drive.
“You have to bring Howrah out of the Red Zone to the Orange Zone,” Banerjee said, setting a stiff target for the district administration.
Under the Centre’s classification, “Orange Zone” is when no fresh case is reported from a district in a span of 14 days. With this target in mind, the chief minister said it was important to remember that keeping community transmission at bay was more important than people going to markets or joining para addas.
“No one should step out of their homes,” she said. “I will ask police to provide food packets to households if families run short of food stocks.”
Apart from Kolkata and Howrah, North 24 Parganas and Hooghly were also under the scanner.
The CM had a word of caution for Chaitali Chakrabarti, the North 24 Parganas district magistrate. “I am sorry to say that the first dengue case was reported from North 24 Parganas. It’s the same for Covid-19. You need to take special care,” she told her.
Banerjee reminded the DM that the district was home to a host of jute mills and brick fields that engage lots of people from outside the district. “When a Covid case has been reported from Hooghly’s Rishra, there is every chance of the virus spreading to the other side of the Hooghly, to Barrackpore,” the CM said. The Hooghly DM reported five active Covid-19 cases spread over Dankuni, Rishra, Sheoraphuli, Pandua and Mahesh.
The chief minister also asked the police to ramp up surveillance along the Indo-Bangla border. “Some days ago, the police intercepted a vehicle carrying four persons who sneaked into our side. We have to be vigilant because we have a long stretch of border without fencing,” Banerjee said. Siliguri in north Bengal was another point of concern as the town shares borders with Bihar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, and serves as the gateway to the north-eastern states. West Burdwan, particularly Asansol, is also vulnerable because of its population density and mobility of population.
The overall Covid scene in the state, however, is not too bad. No case has been reported so far from 10 of Bengal’s 23 districts, the CM said. “East Midnapore has had a positive development: the district was mapped in the Red Zone, but now falls in the Orange Zone,” she said.
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