Kolkata, Apr 24 (PTI) The West Bengal government on Saturday made wearing face masks mandatory in public places amid surging COVID-19 cases and directed the police to initiate legal action against the violators under the Disaster Management Act, according to an order.
'Since the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is grave, all persons are to strictly comply with COVID-19 safety norms of wearing facial mask and maintaining social distancing whenever they go out in public place,' the order issued on Saturday evening stated.
Administrative and police authorities are directed to enforce the orders and take legal actions against the violators of social distancing and mask norms under Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, it said.
The Section 51 of the Act states that violation of restrictive measures will attract imprisonment for a term which may extend up to a year or a fine or both.
'Cases shall be started and prosecutions should be initiated strictly,' it said.
The police on Saturday booked at least 698 people in Kolkata for not wearing masks, a senior officer said.
State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently ruled out the possibility of lockdown in the state and urged people to wear masks, maintain social distancing norms and use sanitisers.
Meanwhile, with Remdesivir getting approval for emergency usage for COVID-19 patients, the state health department on Saturday asked nursing homes and hospitals not to give a prescription for the drug to a patient but to arrange it for them.
The department also said that the drug should only be supplied to hospitals by the manufacturing companies or their vendors and cannot be sold to patients.
The department said in an order that it has been observed that the drug is used indiscriminately 'which is not only appropriate but has also created an artificial crisis in the market'.
'It must be noted that all COVID cases do not qualify for use of Remdesivir. It has been found that roughly 10-20 per cent of all the COVID cases fulfil criteria for treating with the drug. It should be used after a shared decision on a case-to-case basis,' the order said. PTI SCH NN NN