Kolkata: Amid speculation that the only confirmed coronavirus patient in West Bengal managed to delay his hospitalisation for being the son of a senior state government official, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday warned those holding influential positions against hiding the disease and advised the foreign returnees to get themselves tested at the earliest.
Interacting with the media, Banerjee said that those returning from abroad should go into isolation if needed. "A disease is not individual specific. Anybody can catch a disease. Don't spread rumours. Don't be in denial about the disease just because you are influential," the Chief Minister said.
Banerjee's remarks came a day after a student of Oxford University from Kolkata, the son of a senior West Bengal home department official, tested positive for the deadly virus.
According to sources in the health department, the 18-year-old youth was advised hospitalisation on Monday itself, a day after he returned from the UK, after the authorities came to know that he had attended a birthday party abroad in which a number of invitees later contracted the disease.
But he did not turn up, and instead his parents took him to the state-run M.R. Bangur Hospital where the nodal official and another care giver attended him without any protective gear. Both of them have now been asked not to come to the hospital.
The youth's mother also attended her office at the state secretariat Nabanna on Monday and held meetings with top officials of her department.
The youth was admitted to the ID Hospital in Beliaghata on Tuesday morning and the test results that came late in the evening declared him coronavirus positive.
On Wednesday, there was virtual panic at Nabanna after it came to light that the youth had tested positive.
The staff were seen using disinfectants, while a number of senior home department officials, including the top bureaucrats, skipped office and were believed to be under self-quarantine at home, awaiting the results of the tests conducted on the youth's mother. The results are likely to come on Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
An angry Chief Minister said on Wednesday,"Nothing can be more irresponsible than hiding the disease. Those coming from abroad should get themselves tested. If need be, follow the World Health Organisation protocol and remain in isolation."