Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has extended the current lockdown with relaxations in the state from June 30 to July 31. Announcing this at the end of a 3-hour all party meeting today, Ms Banerjee said, "The COVID-19 problem is spreading. Let is try and extend the lockdown with restrictions till July 31."
Bengal recorded 445 new cases of coronavirus today, which took the total to 15,173. Of these, the number of active cases is 4,890. Besides, 11 deaths were recorded which brought the total to 591.
Another key decision on the coronavirus crisis taken during today's meeting is to improve services to non- coronavirus patients.
The political parties agreed that non-COVID-19 patients were facing great difficulty in getting treatment at hospitals. The issue needs to be tackled and private hospitals taken on board, Ms Banerjee said.
A cap on cost of treatment too is on the anvil. "Maharashtra and Delhi have done it. We should too," she said. The chief secretary will oversee an advisory to private hospitals.
"All parties demanded this cap, Ms Banerjee said, adding, "This is not a time to do business. There is a pandemic and hospitals must work in the spirit of service."
On Cyclone Amphan, which too came up for discussion, Opposition leaders of the Left claimed a victory after the Chief Minister sent out a strong message that corruption and nepotism will not be tolerated in distribution of relief.
Just yesterday, the Trinamool Congress sacked a councillor at Mathurapur 2 block for allotting relief funds to family and friends, including people who had two-storey houses unaffected by the cyclone.
The sacking came after angry protests by villagers at the Block Development Office.
Similar protests were reported from Deganga in North 24 Parganas yesterday.
Corruption in relief distribution has been a long-standing complaint by the opposition against the ruling Trinamool. The Chief Minister has also set up an all-party committee to oversee Amphan relief related issues especially in the worst-affected Sunderbans.