Panic buying returned to Kolkata on Wednesday, a day after the Mamata Banerjee-administration announced imposition of total lockdown in containment zones from Thursday evening.
On Wednesday, West Bengal registered 986 new Covid-19 cases – the highest single- day spike till date, taking the total number of cases to 24,823. The total death toll stood at 827 with 23 people dying due to the infection on Wednesday.
Kolkata has around 25 containment zones where the lockdown will be imposed and the adjoining districts of Howrah and North 24 Parganas have 56 and 95 such zones each. Kolkata registered a spike of 366 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday taking the total number of cases in the city to 8,046 till date.
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Since Wednesday morning people started scurrying to local shops and markets to purchase daily essential items.
“I don’t want to take the risk given the experience we had when lockdown was first imposed. What if the supply runs out? I purchased rice, atta, a few kilos of potato, sugar and cooking oil among other items. They will not rot,” said Susmita Biswas, a housewife at Anandapur in east Kolkata.
Out of the 25 containment zones in Kolkata, only five were in the slum areas while housing complexes, mixed residential areas and multiple premises comprised the rest.
Local shopkeepers said that the residents almost stripped the shelves and bought whatever they could to store in their houses. Queues could be seen outside super markets during the day.
“Usually I get around 50 customers every day. But on Wednesday I received double and by evening several items such as noodles and biscuits had almost vanished,” said Ratan Pramanik, a shop keeper in Sinthee, in north Kolkata.
On Wednesday, Banerjee announced that the lockdown would be enforced for seven days after which the situation would be analyzed. If the situation improves, areas which register a decline in Covid-19 cases would be removed from the containment zone list.
The chief minister was, however, visibly peeved with the containment zone list of South 24 Parganas, another adjoining district of Kolkata. The chief minister said the zones had been marked indiscriminately and scrapped the list, asking officials to review it.
An order issued by the state home secretary on Tuesday said that all government and private offices will remain closed, there would be a complete ban on non-essential activities, congregations would be strictly prohibited, no transport would be allowed and markets would be shut down in these containment areas.