West Bengal: Possible partial lockdown from 3rd January, Duare Sarkar camps cancelled

News Desk: West Bengal is likely to go into partial lockdown from January 3 with a spurt in the total number of fresh coronavirus cases in Kolkata. The coronavirus cases in the capital city alone have tripled over the past three days with the number of new infections at 1,954 on Friday. Reported new Covid cases stand at 3,451 in the state.

On December 29, Kolkata had reported 540 new cases, while the state had 1,089 fresh infections. According to data from the ministry of health and family welfare, Kolkata’s weekly positivity rate increased to 12.5 per cent, while the state’s increased to 5.47 per cent.

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and West Bengal health department have announced a “system alert” involving all stakeholders to contain the spread of the virus.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was scheduled to attend a government programme on January 3, which has now been cancelled. All ‘Duare Sarkar’ programmes have also been cancelled from January 3, according to sources.

The Calcutta High Court and district courts have also decided to function in virtual mode only from January 3, with certain exceptions.

Meanwhile, West Bengal cabinet minister, Arup Biswas, has also tested positive for the coronavirus and was admitted to a private hospital.

State health secretary Narayan Swaroop Nigam said a ‘system alert’ involved keeping hospitals, health management, district administration and police on alert so that they could be ready with their plan of action in case of a rise in infections.

“All hospital staff, health management, district administrative officials and police were alerted and were asked to be ready with their plan that could be put into action if they see any rise in number of corona cases in their respective areas,” Nigam said.

He added, “Though the number of cases is increasing, the good news is the number of hospitalisations is low. Demand of hospitalisation is not much. We are closely monitoring the situation. We have taken all necessary steps to restrict the virus from spreading and are trying to break the chain.”

Asked about the total number of containment zones in the state amid concern over 11 Omicron infections and rising Covid graph, he said, “In case of Omicron, we are going for institutional quarantine and prescribed medication and protocol. However, let me clarify to you that the number of such cases is low here in West Bengal. As far as containment zones are concerned, yes there will be such zones and the exact figures will be declared soon.”

Recently, during an administrative meeting, chief minister Mamata Banerjee directed the Nigam and chief secretary HK Dwivedi to conduct a ward-to-ward survey, and to draw up a plan on imposing micro-containment zones after January 3.

According to KMC deputy mayor Atin Ghosh, “Places where four to five cases and a residential unit from where two or more cases are reported in two consecutive weeks will be declared a micro-containment zone. Those who are living in the area will not be allowed to step out.”

Asked about the number of containment zones in KMC limits, he said, “It is in the preparatory stage and the list is not yet finalised. We are in talks with local authorities, housing societies, police, ward representatives, health officials and soon final containment/micro-containment zones will be declared. As of now we are fully prepared to handle the Covid-19 situation. I would like to request the people to maintain Covid protocols and not panic.”

“We will monitor clusters of cases in the wards and only after that decide if any particular stretch or building needs to be declared a micro-containment zone,” he added.

On measures taken by the KMC to handle Omicron infections, he said, “There is a set protocol, and whoever tests positive for Omicron is immediately hospitalised in consultation with the state health department.”

On Friday, however, mayor Firhad Hakim claimed to have identified 11 micro-containment zones in the KMC area.

The KMC and the state health department have pulled up their socks in the backdrop of a sharp rise in daily new Covid cases in West Bengal.

Back-to-back health bulletins issued by the state government show that the Covid graph is increasing in Bengal, which has forced all stakeholders to swing into action to keep the infection rate under control.

The state government has also cancelled ‘Duare Sarkar’ camps and a programme at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata, which was scheduled for January 3, during which student credit cards were to be distributed. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was scheduled to attend the event.

Sources in the administration said that the government is planning to announce a set of new Covid-19 restrictions, including a night curfew, from Monday.