Amid a 21 day lockdown in India in light of the coronavirus outbreak, the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal is gearing up for the upcoming weeks with setting up hospitals and COVID-19 testing labs in the state.
Banerjee on Tuesday did the rounds of all the government-run hospitals in the state This was after she announced a special package for workers in the unorganised sector in the state.
Meanwhile, over a 1,000 people had reportedly been arrested by the Kolkata police for violating restrictions.
Anandabazaar.com reported that Banerjee visited the state-run medical college hospitals in Kolkata, the quarantine centre in Rajarhat and also Kolkata’s Beliaghata Infectious Diseases hospital on Tuesday.
State making space for more patients
Preparations were in full swing to make space for more patients as coronavirus cases increased across the country. According to the Union health ministry West Bengal has 9 active cases and has seen one death.
The report on Anandabazaar.com said the RG Kar Hospital that Banerjee visited was one of the places where coronavirus isolation wards had been opened.
The Kolkata Medical College is also in the process of being turned into a coronavirus hospital with patients other patients being discharged.
A senior health official told PTI, “From Tuesday, we have started discharging patients who are in better condition from Medical College Hospital, Kolkata. We have also stopped admitting new patients, especially those who are pregnant and are referring them to other hospitals.
“This is as per the state government’s plan to convert the entire hospital, which has 2,200 beds, into an isolation and treatment centre for persons suspected to be infected with the coronavirus,”
According to the West Bengal state government, they want to keep high risk patients in one place to prevent the spread of the virus.
Testing labs set up
Another report in Anandabazar.com said that COVID-19 testing centres were being set up in four private hospitals and one lab.
The report said because of the lack of infrastructure, most private testing labs had not even submitted application forms at a time when health workers think a lot more labs need to be set up across the state,
Over 1000 Arrested
While reports of police excess are coming from all parts of the country, the Kolkata police seem to be harshly cracking down on people on the streets of the city
A senior police official told PTI that 1,003 people had been arrested in the city in a span of 24 hours for flouting the lockdown — 271 from south division, 198 and 118 from south suburban and central divisions respectively.
Newspapers important, says Mamata
Like in other parts of the country, vendors refused to pick up newspapers in the state resulting in many not getting them in the morning
However, Banerjee appealed to the vendors on Tuesday reiterating that media was exempt from the ban.
“Those working with newspapers, this is something I have to say…. Today, a lot of hawkers did not pick up newspapers. There is a problem... I will tell them — the police administration has also been told — in no uncertain terms, the media stand exempted from the restrictions, even in our Complete Safety Restrictions scenario,” The Telegraph quoted Banerjee as saying
Banerjee highlighted the need for distributing newspapers by saying, ”“People also have to read newspapers, how else will they come to know about anything on a day-to-day basis?”
(With PTI inputs)