The 25 addresses in Kolkata that have been tagged cointainment zones include six housing complexes, five slums, 10 “mixed areas” (having both high-rises and slums) and four places with “multiple premises”. Eleven of the 25 places are in south Kolkata and 14 are in north and central Kolkata. The worst-affected place is Joramandir Bazar near Phoolbagan, which has logged 23 cases in the last fortnight.
In Kolkata’s immediate neighbourhood, Salt Lake has six containment zones and urban Howrah 17. New Town does not have a single such area.
The notification on containment zones coincided with Thursday’s health bulletin that contained three single-day highest-so-far figures: 986 new cases in Bengal, 366 new cases in Kolkata and 23 deaths in the state.
The seven days’ lockdown, starting from 5pm on Thursday, will be reviewed next week and relaxed if there are no fresh cases in these zones. Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee stressed that monitoring would be “strict”, with barricades and regular police drives to sensitise citizens.
Banerjee gave the example of her own neighbourhood to show how such “small containment zones” could be effective in fighting the novel coronavirus’s spread. Referring to the immediate aftermath of “Tama’s” (Falta Trinamool Congress MLA Tamanash Ghosh’s) death, when “25-30 of his friends” were found to have contracted the virus, Banerjee recalled how a “strict lockdown” resulted in the number of cases coming down to zero.
Cops had been told to strictly enforce wearing of masks, Banerjee said, but added that they had been instructed to send rule-breakers home instead of fining them. “How does fining a poor person Rs 2,000 make any sense?” she said.
“I have been told there is a spike in cases in housing complexes,” the CM said. “I would ask people not to worry but to behave responsibly and stay healthy,” she added.
“We have thought of these small containment zones so that people are not inconvenienced,” Banerjee said, adding that Sufal Bangla outlets had been told to send supply to the containment zones and residents could contact cops in case of “any emergency”. “Please work from home if there are small offices in these zones,” she appealed.
The government released the containment-zone lists for Kolkata, Howrah and North 24 Parganas on Wednesday evening but pushed the release of the South 24 Parganas list to Thursday after the CM herself noticed anomalies. “I don’t agree with the areas listed. It looks like having been copied from the voters’ list. This is very bad and unfair. They have just included entire wards,” she said, adding: “Ekdom khate ni (They have not worked hard at all).”
Kolkata Municipal Corporation administrator Firhad Hakim later said that the KMC would start an awareness drive in high-rises. “Entry into these complexes is difficult. People will have to understand that we are there to help them,” Hakim said before asking citizens not to worry about transport. “There is no road in these containment zones, only houses,” he added.