The West Bengal government on Thursday enforced a 24-hour lockdown – the first day of the bi-weekly lockdown announced by the Mamata Banerjee administration – even as week-long lockdowns have already been announced in multiple towns and municipal areas after the state government flagged apprehensions of community spread of Covid-19 disease in some areas.
The total number of cases registered in the state crossed the 50,000-mark and stood at 51,757 with 2,436 new cases being recorded in the last 24 hours. This is the highest single day spike till date. The death toll climbed to 1,255 with 34 Covid-patients dying in the last 24 hours.
In Kolkata, life came to a virtual stand-still, as the city police used drones to keep a tab on lockdown violators and put up barricades and naka checking at multiple places to restrict unnecessary movement of people. Entry and exit points were sealed and cops led by senior IPS officers patrolled the roads and even lanes and bylanes in vulnerable pockets.
“At least 886 persons were arrested for violating lockdown norms, which is four times than the number of persons arrested for the same reason on any lockdown day. More than 500 people were booked for not wearing masks compared to around 300 on other days. At least 30 vehicles were seized and 27 persons were prosecuted for spitting on the road,” said a senior officer of Kolkata Police.
Offices, including banks, public transport and markets were shut down while medicine shops and petrol pumps were kept open along with some emergency services during lock down.
The scenario in the districts was all the same with policemen strictly enforcing the lockdown on the first day. People who could no cite proper reason of stepping out of their houses were either sent back or forced to do sit ups as on-spot punishment.
Week-long lockdowns have been declared in many civic bodies in North 24 Parganas, Burdwan and Birbhum district. In north Bengal, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has announced week-long lockdown in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik and five other hill towns.
The next state-wide lockdown would be enforced on Saturday. While next week one lockdown day would be enforced on July 29, the state government is likely to announce the other date on Monday.
Meanwhile the state has announced strict lockdown in containment zones till July 31 and night time curfew from 10 pm to 5 am.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier said that there could be a further spike in the number of cases as the state would ramp its testing from present 14,000 to 25,000 by August 15.
(With inputs from Siliguri)