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COVID-19: Bengal forms quick response teams

Kolkata, March 6 (IANS) The West Bengal government has formed quick response teams, sent advisories to every district, municipality, panchayat and private hospital, established a 24×7 call centre and a helpline to prevent any spread of the deadly coronavirus in the state, where nobody has tested positive so far, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday.

Briefing reporters after a meeting at the state secretariat Nabanna, where representatives of various Central agencies were also present, Banerjee assured people there was no cause for panic, and sought everybody’s cooperation to combat the disease on a war footing to minimise any possible future damage from it.

“Till today, no positive case of coronavirus has been detected in West Bengal. There is no need to panic,” she said.

The Chief Minister said the Central and state governments were combating the disease “as a family”.

“We are all working together. So don’t divide us now. It is a united family. Let us combat the situation. It is not what the Centre will do or what the state te will do. We are one family,” she said.

Refering to a meeting convened by World Health Organisation (WHO) in Delhi during the day, Banerjee said she has deputed five officials. “WHO will give us the guideline, which we will follow”.

Sharing figures, the Chief Minister said 1.42 lakh people have been screened in Kolkata. Three people were hospitalised, but none of them was found to be positive.

Banerjee said isolation wards have been earmarked in many hospitals in the city and the districts, and arrangements made for screening people at the airports and ports. The railway department has also been asked to arrange for such screening at big junction stations.

The health department was issuing a daily bulleting on its website. Detailed advisories on combating the disease have gone out to every district, municipality and panchayat. Arrangements are being made for detailed training of personnel.

“Quick response teams are being set up in the district hospitals,” she said.

The state government has established a 24×7 call centre (number 1800313444222) and a helpline (03323412600).

Banerjee said there was need to screen domestic flight passengers also as there were many cases where an international traveller lands at an airport outside the state and then come to Bengal by taking another flight.

“Again, somebody who is carrying the infection may halt here for three-four days before the symptoms manifest, and then go elsewhere. We feel, such people should also be checked”.

Banerjee said the state govenrment and central agencies will henceforth try to maintain surveillance aeven if in a small way on this section of travellers.

Banerjee said efforts are on to establish centres for screening people at the international land checkposts as the state shares borders with three countries – Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

The chief minister said to ensure all agencies and departments work in coordination, committees have been formed in the district headed by the district magistates and the chief medical officer (health).

Banejee said she would write to the Centre to ensure a steady supply of medicines and infrastructure equipment which used to come from China till the disease broke out.

Banerjee warned hoarders that anybody trying to jack up prices of masks and medicines by creating artificial scarcity would be taken into custody.

“The Enforcement Branch and all police agencies have been asked to be on high alert on this count so that essential drugs and masks are adequately available,” she said.

The government would also come out with advertisements on dos and don’ts.

Asked whether she was considering a ban on foreigners’ entry into the state, just as Sikkim has done, Banerjee said: “There are some subjects which are under the jurisdiction of the External Affairs Ministry. Whatever guidance government of India gives us, we will abide by that”.




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