Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee played down the new lockdown that will come into force from 5 pm tomorrow across containment zones of the state, saying there is no need to make a mountain out of molehill. The lockdown will be in force for seven days and extended if necessary, she said. She also rejected the list of new containment zones for the South 24 Parganas district, because too many areas were included.
"You can't lock down a whole district," she said after examining the list at a televised meeting with her officials and doctors from government hospitals. "Who has prepared this list? Has it been done on the basis of the voters list? You have included entire civic wards. Very bad! Review it!" she said.
The chief minister cleared the redrawn containment zone list for Kolkata, North 24 Parganas and Howrah districts and said there should be a focus on Siliguri in north Bengal as well as Malda, which have seen a sharp rise in coronavirus numbers.
Since 1 July, there have been 5,278 new cases and 136 deaths in the state.
Now, the lockdown will come into force from 5 pm Thursday in Kolkata, Howrah and North 24 Parganas but not in South 24 Parganas.
"Please review the containment zone list for South 24 Parganas and put off the lockdown in that district by a day or two till the list is finalised," Ms Banerjee said. The lockdown in the other districts can go ahead.
The police were asked to strictly enforce the use of masks. "I don't want to fine people who don't wear masks. But from now on, police will send people straight home if they step out minus masks," Ms Banerjee said.
The announcement of a fresh round of lockdown in redefined and expanded containment zones in Bengal came on a day the state reported 850 new cases and 25 deaths – the last, the highest one day COVID-19 toll. Numbers have been spiralling in the state. Already, Malda district has started a lockdown in three municipal areas from today as well as in one municipal area in North Dinajpur.