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News18 » India
2-min read

After Reports of Landlords Harassing Emergency Workers, Mamata Directs Officials to Take Action

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said healthcare professionals should not be harassed and ostracised out of fear since they are coming in contact with patients affected by the coronavirus.

Sujit Nath | News18

Updated:March 25, 2020, 6:30 PM IST
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After Reports of Landlords Harassing Emergency Workers, Mamata Directs Officials to Take Action
People board a crowded bus to return to their cities and villages in Kolkata on Monday. (Reuters)

Kolkata: Amid reports of harassment faced by airlines staff, crew members, health workers and doctors at the hands of landlords and house owners amid the coronvirus outbreak, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday instructed law enforcement agencies to ensure their protection.

Addressing a press conference, Banerjee said social distancing is not to isolate people completely.

"I heard that emergency workers are being harassed by landlords and local people. Health staff, nurses and doctors, who are helping us in this crisis, are also being harassed. It is our duty to protect them. No social boycott will be entertained for those who are still working in this emergency," she said.

Banerjee said healthcare professionals should not be harassed and ostracised out of fear since they are coming in contact with patients affected by the coronavirus.

Banerjee asked citizens not to panic and said there is no scarcity of food and essential goods in the state.

“I would like to instruct all the District Magistrates, Superintendents of Police and police stations to deliver food at the doorsteps of the needy and elderly. Everybody should maintain distance while buying any goods or emergency items at shops," she said. "Please don’t step out of your homes unless it is very urgent. We can beat this crisis together.”

Banerjee set up two task forces headed by the state Chief Secretary. Those needing any kind of assistance can call on either of the two helpline numbers launched – 1070 (toll-free) and 033-22143526 (landline).

Banerjee instructed all the district administration to not stop vendors from selling vegetables. "If required, issue a pass to them for their movement,” she said.

On ‘social pension’ schemes for widows, farmers and tribals, Banerjee said the state will give them two months' pension together. Ordering all destitutes to shift to night shelters, she said they will be provided food and transport department have been asked to take emergency patients to hospitals.

Banerjee said Bengal is not getting adequate support from the Centre, urging the government to release a special financial, health and food package for all states.

Banerjee said the COVID-19 testing facilities in the state are inadequate. "We have only three testing centres. The union government and ICMR must assist us with more such centres,” she said.

Till March 24, a total of 81,093 persons have been screened at the Kolkata and Bagdogra airports and 5,61,601 at the seven Land Border Check Points along Nepal and Bangladesh. At least 5,258 crew members of ships have been screened at three ports. So far, 23,040 travellers from COVID-19 affected countries have been identified and placed under surveillance.

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