Bengal govt extends Covid restrictions

Considering the state’s proximity to Bangladesh – one of the 12 countries declared by the Centre as ‘at risk’ owing to the outbreak of Covid variant Omicron, the West Bengal government has extended the Covid-related restrictions for the next 15 days.

A notification issued by the state government said that the present Covid protocol will be extended till December 15. The government has also asked the police and the administration to impose night-curfew strictly from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. People have been asked not to get out of their houses during this period until there is an emergency.

No movement except for medical emergencies will be allowed at night. Apart from that, the state government has appealed to all the people to wear masks and maintain social distancing to contain the spread of this ‘highly transmissible’ Covid variant. However, the government, in this present situation is not thinking of any kind of lockdown but the offices have been asked to adhere to all the covid guidelines strictly, the notice read.

With the spread of this new variant in several countries of the world, the Centre has already identified 12 countries and termed them ‘at risk’. This list includes the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Israel. Among these countries the state has direct flight with Singapore and Bangladesh.

According to state health department officials, the state has got direct flight from Singapore but that is manageable because the passengers will have to go through medical tests before they are allowed to enter the state. “The problem lies with Bangladesh because a lot of people migrate to India by illegally crossing the border. It is nearly impossible to restrict these people,” a senior state government official said.

“There are at least seven to eight districts that share a border with Bangladesh including districts like North and South 24 parganas, Nadia, Murshidabad, Coochbehar, Malda and South and North Dinajpur. There are many areas where fencing has not been completed and some portions of the border are riverine. In these areas it is nearly impossible to keep an eye on illegal entry. Still, the state government is trying everything to restrict the entry from these countries,” the official added.

The state government has made RT PCR mandatory for people who are coming from Singapore and Bangladesh. “So long they don’t get the RTPCR report they will have to stay in quarantine,” the official said.

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