NEWS
13/04/2020 2:10 PM IST

West Bengal Coronavirus Updates: 7 Dead, 42 Undisclosed Areas In Kolkata Under Watch

The Union home ministry, meanwhile, sent a notice to the West Bengal government to take action against "gradual dilution" of the lockdown.

DIBYANGSHU SARKAR via Getty Images
A municipal worker sprays disinfectant as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Kolkata on April 12, 2020.

Amid rising cases in West Bengal, the state government has now made it mandatory for people to wear face covers in public spaces amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

This comes even as 7 people have died from the disease. Two deaths were reported from West Bengal on Sunday. 

The West Bengal government has said that the number of active cases in the state was 95. 

Meanwhile, political blame games continued with the BJP claiming the state government was stopping its workers carrying out relief work. The home ministry also sent a notice to the Mamata Banerjee-led government over “gradual dilution” of the lockdown. 

Order on face masks 

The government said people had to cover their faces with any mask or cloth as a measure to prevent further spread of the virus. 

The Telegraph quoted chief secretary Rajiva Sinha as saying, “Mouth and nose should be covered by facial masks or any other available piece of cloth which may even include a properly folded or rolled dupatta, gamchha, handkerchief or any such material that acts as a protective cover…. It shall be mandatory to use this cover always, especially when in public places.”

The report said that the government has, however, not mentioned any measures to penalise people if they did not cover their faces. 

42 Areas In Kolkata Under Watch 

According to the state health ministry, 42 areas of Kolkata where coronavirus cases have been found will be under strict watch from Monday. 

Anandabazaar.com reported that the homes of those affected and the neighbouring homes will be under watch. 

Sources told the Bengali newspaper that the homes of those affected and surrounding areas will be disinfected with sprays. 

The report did not mention which 42 areas will be under watch. The report said the government has decided not to disclose the names of those 42 areas. 

It was not clear why such a decision was taken. 

Home ministry’s missive 

The Union home ministry wrote to West Bengal for the third time on Sunday asking the state to take action ensure strict adherence to the curbs following alleged violation incidents in Murshidabad and Siliguri.

According to PTI the letter written by a deputy secretary in the the ministry was addressed to the state chief secretary and the director general of police. 

“It has been reported that there was a large assembly of people in establishment dispensing essential commodities and shops dealing with non-essential commodities were open in Siliguri. Further, the lockdown was also violated in some mosques in Murshidabad district,” PTI quoted the letter as saying. 

“It is requested to take necessary action in order to ensure strict adherence to lockdown measures. District authorities and field agencies may accordingly be directed so as to prevent any such recurrence in future,” it added.

A top official of the state government, when contacted, described it “as a routine exchange of information among different government agencies”.

This was the MHA’s third missive to the West Bengal government regarding violation of lockdown measures. The first and the second were sent on April 4 and April 10 respectively.

The Union Home Ministry in its letter on Saturday had objected to what it called was a “gradual dilution” of lockdown in the state and said shops of non-essential goods were allowed to open and the police also gave permission to religious gatherings.

BJP cries foul, TMC organises community kitchen

PTI reported that the West Bengal BJP on Sunday alleged that TMC  was preventing its party workers from distributing relief materials among people during the nationwide lockdown.

The BJP’s Alipurduar MP John Barla said he was stopped by the administration from distributing relief among tribals in his constituency in the morning.

“I had received reports that some people in my constituency were not getting relief materials, so I decided to distribute the items myself. But the police and the administration stopped me from distributing the goods. This is not acceptable,” Barla said.

The BJP said similar incidents were reported in North 24 Parganas and Jhargram districts.

BJP’s Jhargram MP Kunar Hembram had made similar allegations against the district administration.

“If TMC leaders distribute relief material, then there is no problem. But when the BJP does the same, we are stopped in the name of prohibitory orders against the congregation of more than seven persons. This is unacceptable,” BJP state president and Medinipur MP Dilip Ghosh was quoted by PTI as saying. 

Meanwhile, TMC MP and Mamata Banerjee’s nephew organised a community kitchen in his constituency Diamond Harbour, which reportedly fed over 50,000 people. 

Abhishek took to Twitter on Sunday saying: