Amid reports of community spread of COVID-19 in some pockets of West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Tuesday that the lockdown in containment zones will continue till August 31 as also the biweekly restrictions in place to contain the pandemic.
However, later in the evening, the government withdrew total lockdown on August 2 and 9. In a statement, the government said the decision was taken after receiving request and appeal from different quarters not to observe state-wide lockdown on certain dates coinciding with festivals and important community occasions.
Respecting the sentiments of the people we are withdrawing complete lockdown announcement for 2 August and 9 August(2/2)— HOME DEPARTMENT - GOVT. OF WEST BENGAL (@HomeBengal) July 28, 2020
Earlier in the day, addressing a press conference, Banerjee said schools and colleges will remain closed till August 31 and a decision on their reopening will be taken in September.
"The lockdown in containment zones will continue till August 31. The biweekly total lockdown across the state will also remain in place till the end of next month," Banerjee said.
The total lockdown will be imposed on July 29 (Wednesday), while in August, the dates of complete lockdown would be 5 (Wednesday), 8 (Saturday), 16 (Sunday), 17 (Monday), 23 (Sunday), 24 (Monday), and 31 (Monday).
"The biweekly lockdown will be implemented mostly on Saturdays and Sundays. But since festivals like Eid as well as Independence Day are on Saturdays, lockdown will be enforced on some other day," she said.
The decision to enforce biweekly lockdown was taken earlier this month amid suspected community transmission in some parts of the state.
Banerjee said, “We are targeting 25,000 COVID-19 and two lakh antigen tests by August 15. We have formed eight separate teams for effective coordination on all issues related to COVID-19 which includes infrastructural augmentation, testing/laboratory teams, safe homes, body disposal/cremation/COVID management, tele-services, date management and COVID Clubs.”
Senior officers will work as nodal officers for coordination in five high-risk districts, including Kolkata, South 24-Parganas, North 24-Parganas and Howrah.
A multi-purpose COVID helpline number - 1800313444222 for 24x7 telemedicine facility has also been set up. The state government has also launched online monitoring of nearly 1,400 patients in different government and private hospitals by experts at 'Swasthya Bhawan'. Their medical report will be directly uploaded on the health portal.
The government also allowed last rites of people without waiting for COVID test report as per ICMR guidelines. The state had reported over 60,000 COVID-19 cases till Monday.
(With inputs from PTI)