Confusion prevailed on the death toll from the novel coronavirus in West Bengal with Mamata Banerjee claiming only three people had been confirmed to have died of the coronavirus. However, a state health department official told PTI the death toll was now at 7.
Banerjee dismissed these numbers saying there was no confirmation that the others had died of COVID-19.
PTI said the seventh person to die was an elderly man who was tested positive for COVID-19 and was in a private hospital. However, there was no official confirmation of whether he died due to coronavirus or any other ailments.
Banerjee also wrote to the Prime Minister asking for Rs 25,000 crore for the state.
She told the PM that the finances of the state were in a dire situation.
“Therefore, I earnestly urge you to sanction a grant of a minimum of Rs 25,000 crore for the state of West Bengal and release the funds still due to us from GoI (government of India), as per my earlier letter to you,” a report in The Telegraphquoted her letter as saying.
Only three deaths, says Mamata Banerjee
Reports suggested that apart from the three people who died over Tuesday and Wednesday, there have been four other coronavirus deaths in the state.
The Union health ministry’s last update on Wednesday also put the number of dead in the state at 3.
However, Banerjee in a press conference claimed not all these death were from coronavirus.
“So far, there are 37 cases in Bengal, including three persons who died due to COVID-19. Some media houses are sensationalising the issue saying six have died. It is their imagination. The other three died because of other health conditions,” PTI quoted Banerjee as in a press conference on Wednesday.
She said there was no confirmation on whether the other people who had died was because of COVID-19.
Anandabazar.com quoted her as saying, “Only three people have been confirmed to have died (of coronavirus). The rest are not confirmed. Please don’t say (they died of coronavirus), if there is no confirmation. It’s not okay to do this to promote the names of some nursing homes. The Supreme Court has given advice on liability. There are disaster laws in the country.”
Jamaat Attendees quarantined
Mamata Banerjee said that 71 people from the state had attended the Tablighi Jamaat of whom 54 have been quarantined.
Out of the 54, around 40 people are foreigners. The remaining (17 persons) will also be quarantined today. We are monitoring the situation,” she was quoted by PTI as saying.
Banerjee also pointed out that there was no need to sensationalise the Jamaat incident.
“About Nizamuddin, some questions have been raised… about who all went, etc…. First of all, there is no need for such sensationalisation,” The Telegraph quoted Banerjee as saying.
“There is no reason for worry. There is no reason for panic…. Most importantly, there is no reason for wicked activities in the name of religion, weaving communal elements into the narrative over this… it is condemnable,” she said.
Clashes outside PDS outlets
Clashes broke out outside Public Distribution System (PDS) outlets in parts of West Bengal on Wednesday, reported PTI.
The report said that outside a shop in Murshidabad’s Kandi area, TMC and Congress supporters clashed to collect free ration. The police said that they had to intervene to control the mob.
Similar scenes were witnessed outside a shop in Purulia’s Balarampur where two groups clashed over free ration, police said, adding that the dealer was also thrashed by the mob for failing to provide the quantity of foodgrain promised by the state government.
The West Bengal government has announced free ration for over 7.5 crore population in the state till September in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
In Kolkata and other districts, people were seen scrambling at the PDS outlets to stock up, defying the advice of social distancing.
Large gatherings were seen outside such outlets in Tollygunge, Beliaghata, Maniktala and Dum Dum areas of the city.
State food supplies minister Jyotipriyo Mullick said that West Bengal has enough stocks of foodgrains till September and there is no need to panic.
“Such incidents are completely unacceptable. There is no need to panic, the state has enough foodgrain till September. But still, in some places, such violent incidents have been reported. People should be aware that if they don’t maintain social distance, it will bring in disaster, not only for one person but for the entire community,” Mullick said.
(With PTI inputs)