Expressing concern over the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Bengal's Jhargram, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, during an administrative meeting in the district on Wednesday, said trucks and lorries originating from other states might be carriers of coronavirus.
Ms Banerjee also said that there was no clear idea yet over the modes of virus transmission, and it was necessary to conduct "forensic tests" on truck tyres to ensure they were not infected.
"We should not forget that Jhargram shares border with Jharkhand. There are trucks from Mumbai, Chennai and other states passing through the district. We can conduct forensic tests on the tyres of a couple of lorries that pass through the toll plaza to see if the virus is spreading through these," she maintained.
The Chief Minister further claimed that it cannot be said for sure if the virus spreads from the clothes people wear and the bags we carry.
"I think this (COVID-19) is also air-borne. We actually do not have a clear idea how it is spreading, if it can get transmitted from the bag we are using in the market or from the clothes... The only thing that we can do is take appropriate precautionary measures. And since cases are on the rise in Jhargram, we have to take measures in advance," Ms Banerjee explained.
She said that truck drivers coming to the state from elsewhere should carry own food.
"People coming in lorries from other states, such as Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai, must carry own food. The virus might be spreading when these people sit in dhabas to eat food.
"If they want to eat in dhabas, proper sanitisation and health protocol should be followed there," she said asking the administration to chalk out a plan in this connection.
Urging people to strictly follow safety guidelines, the Chief Minister said her government would distribute masks to the poor free of cost.
"I saw people moving around without masks here. If needed, they should be given masks by the police during Durga Pujas through community development programmes," she said.
Of the 79 gram panchayats in Jhargram, 10 has been affected by the disease, a senior official said.
The district currently has 209 active cases, while 10 people have succumbed to the infection so far, according to the bulletin released by the state health department.
The Chief Minister, during the meeting, also asked the district administration to identify a piece of land, where a press club
could be constructed.
She highlighted various welfare schemes initiated by her government, and enlisted policies beneficial for the scheduled caste and tribal population.
Ms Banerjee asked the district officials to ensure all beneficiaries receive their dues without any hassle.