If Lockdown Lifted, Migrant Workers to Stay in Quarantine on Return: Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed that she is clueless about Centre’s future plan on lockdown but clarified that if discontinued, then migrants workers returning from other states will have to spend the mandatory period in quarantine at 'safe houses'.

Addressing a press conference at the state secretariat on Tuesday, she said, "I don’t know when it will end or whether it will be extended or not. But if it discontinued, then large number of migrant workers will start returning to their home districts in Bengal. It will be a major health concern. In that case, we have decided that they have to stay at 'safe houses' for a mandatory quarantine period. These 'safe houses' will be provided by the state government."

Clearing confusion over government’s bulletin on COVID-19, she said, "In West Bengal, the death toll due to COVID-19 rose to five from three. The total number of cases in the state stands at 69."

As an elaborate plan to contain the virus, she said, "We have identified seven COVID-19 hotspots in West Bengal. In these areas we have taken various precautionary measures to contain the virus. We have a case where 60 people from 9 families were affected. Therefore, we have to be very careful while in market places."

Expressing concern over financial distress faced by workforce in unorganised sectors, she said that the district administrations have been directed to allow the functioning of flower markets and 'bidi' making business.

On CM’s relief fund, she said, "Bengal is a state of poor people, and we do not have much industries here. We are receiving small donations but need more contributions."

After the press conference, Noble laureate Abhijit Banerjee joined Mamata Banerjee through video conferencing and advised her to follow Korea and Taiwan model of containing the virus in public places.

He further said, "People should not fear or panic. If anyone is showing COVID-19 symptoms, they should come forward fearlessly. The government should develop a structure to get information if a group of people is showing COVID-19 symptoms in one small area. This will help in preventing the virus from spreading."

Abhijit Banerjee is a member of Mamata’s Global Advisory Board (GAB) constituted to work on COVID-19 rescue plane.