March 30, 2020
There is no need to panic. We must help each other: Mamata Banerjee
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addressed a press conference today, announcing several measures that the government has decided to take to combat the situation created by the coronavirus and coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Highlights of her address to the press:
We normally ask people to donate blood especially during the summer, when there is more need. Since during this time, it will be difficult for people to donate blood, the police have come forward to pledge 50 units of blood every day per district, including Kolkata, which will be stored in the blood banks. The donation sessions will happen every evening. In Kolkata, it will happen at Netaji Indoor Stadium, and at designated stadiums and such big spaces in every district. The places will be sanitised before every session.
There is no need to panic. Those who have asthma, heart, diabetes problems, please consult a doctor.
I would request the district hospitals to not send any and every patient to the State hospitals. Common fevers or minor cases should be treated there, only the serious cases should be transferred to the State hospitals.
Even during the lockdown, we will keep basic services open, so that normal life is not fully disrupted, and people are inconvenienced as little as possible.
Grocery shops and markets will remain open during their normal working hours. Just ensure not to crowd, maintain the recommended distance between each other.
We will ensure that chemist shops remain open and the medicine supply cold chain is not disrupted. We will ensure that hops selling essential commodities are kept open. Another important thing, the local administration and the police will also see to it that the people working in these shops are not inconvenienced during their daily commutes to and from their shops. I will request the owners of such places to give certifying letters to their employees so that they can show them during road checks (naka checks) by the police.
Allow all house surgeons who want to work voluntarily in hospitals to do so.
We are operationalising a special number which anyone volunteering to provide health services during this serious situation can contact: (033) 23412602. A nodal officer will be appointed to handle this number.
We will be very thankful to all such volunteers. After calling the number, they should provide three essential details: name, phone number and the type of service they are willing to volunteer for.
I want to emphasise that there is no shortage and drugs and essential commodities in Bengal.
I want to announce that the State Government is increasing the insurance (both treatment and death) coverage from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh for everyone linked to healthcare and a few others, and their families — including doctors, nurses, ASHA and ICDS workers, ambulance drivers and paramedics, employees of crematoriums and burial places, courier delivery personnel, food delivery personnel, cooks coming to work at people’s homes, sanitation workers and others – and increasing the period from April 15 to May 15, and this is for both government and private sectors.
We have requisitioned for 10 lakh personal protective equipment (PPE). The disease appeared suddenly, so naturally we were not prepared. We are trying our best to solve the problem.
There is a shortage of suppliers so anybody willing to help us in the procurement can contact us immediately.
We have already distributed 38,000 N95 masks, 16,000 surgical masks and 20,000 hand gloves. We have ordered for 300 ventilators. We have received 215, and 10 more came today. We are also arranging for some mobile ventilators.
There are two lakh migrant workers from Bengal all over the country. Both I and my chief secretary have written to our counterparts in 18 States to see to it that they are taken proper care of.
In our State too, there are 40,000 migrant labourers who we are looking after properly. We must all help each other.
I would request the finance secretary to ensure that all government employees get their salaries on time. We can also give advance if anyone needs it; they have to apply in the proper format.
We are giving the social pension amounts for April and May together.
The lockdown is still April 14. Now, April 14 is also Poila Baisakh. So we will announce some relaxations for that day, which we will announce on April 13.
I would request the people to not hoard medicines; there is enough for all.
I would request everyone to contribute to the Chief Minister’s Emergency Relief Fund. Contributors will get tax relief. Give whatever you can — we will accept even five rupees with gratitude.
Our MPs have already given Rs 50 lakh each. Many industrialists, doctors and members of the general public have contributed as well.
All grocery shops and government ration shops will run as usual. If someone doesn’t have a ration card but needs to get food from a ration shop, a special temporary card would be issued to them.
For the 20 lakh poorest of the poor (including those holding ration cards and others), the State Government will give an extra 5 kg rice.
I would request those who give home delivery of food to continue with their service as there are many aged people who are not in a state to cook their food every day. The local police will arrange for special passes for them.
Milk supply should be continued as usual.
The government will allow all sweet shops to remain open from 12 pm to 4 pm every day. This will help the dairy farmers as well.
The police must take strong action as per the law against spreaders of fake news. Such news is maligning a system.
Those who have been directed by doctors to remain in quarantine for 14 days must follow the rule strictly. We all want to stay healthy.
If people have any complaint against police personnel, they should inform the higher authorities, including through the police’s Twitter accounts. The police are doing their best to help the people, be it delivering food or anything else.
I would also request private sector companies to ensure that employees get their salaries on time.
The NGOs must do their best to help the people.
I would strictly request doctors to not certify any patient having fever, or any person having died after suffering some illness, to have caught the coronavirus without proper tests. This is as per the WHO, ICMR and Government of India guidelines. Strict action will be taken against such doctors.
For manufacturing PPEs, those who work with textiles, like MSMEs (including those in the Metiabruz hub) and Tantuja, are working tirelessly.
We must help each other in coming out of this situation victorious.