Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said the government has identified seven COVID-19 hotspots in the state and is chalking out a plan to restrict the virus within those areas. The chief minister said flower growers and bidi workers, who were facing problems in doing business, can now start working. Banerjee also said that the death toll in the state has risen to five, while the number of active cases stands at 69. On Tuesday, eight new coronavirus cases were reported. “We have identified seven COVID-19 hotspots in the state,” Banerjee said without giving details about the names of the vulnerable areas.
“We have to restrict this within that small place and draw a Lakshman Rekha around it so that it does not spread to other places,” she told reporters at the state secretariat. The chief minister also said that she was weighing the option of providing “limited relaxation” on the work front for unorganised sector employees, who were among the worst hit by the lockdown.
“There’s no doubt that people are facing problems. So we are mulling the idea of allowing limited relaxation to some unorganised sectors so that workers can start earning. We will also allow Kisan Mandi to operate but everybody has to adhere to the social distancing norms,” she added.
From Wednesday, flower cultivators, who were facing trouble in selling their produce, will be allowed by police to resume their business, the chief mnister said. “Large flower markets will be made operational from Thursday and those selling flowers in local markets can start work from Wednesday. The police will not stop them,” she said. Banerjee also said that those working for the bidi industry can start working keeping in mind social distancing.
“Bidi workers can start working at their homes, but only seven can sit together keeping a distance of two metres from one another. If you violate this, police will take strict action,” she said. Apparently hitting out at the Bharatiya Janata Party, Banerjee alleged that some political parties were trying to misguide subscribers at ration shops.
Meanwhile, Nobel laureate economist Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, who is a member of the ‘Global Advisory Board’ formed to help the state government in preparing a roadmap in reviving the economy of the state post COVID-19, suggested a few steps to combat the disease here. “We can conduct rapid tests on people even if they are having normal cough and cold. This will help us in understanding the situation before it spreads. This is not to create panic but to take precautionary measures,” he said in a video call from Cambridge. He also stressed on placing sanitiser at the gates of market places so that people entering there can use them in a bid to combat the spread of COVID-19.