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Coronavirus: 2 more test positive in West Bengal, community transmission threat looms

Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata 

West Bengal on Saturday reported two more coronavirus positive cases -- one of which is not linked to foreign travel -- raising concerns of community-level transmission.

The state's health officials, however, said, they are trying to ascertain if the patient had come in contact with anybody who tested positive or has recently returned from abroad.

As the number of confirmed cases in the state rose to four, the state government ordered a shutdown of a host of public places including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, amusement parks, massage parlours, museums and zoos, till March 31.

A 57-year-old man from Dumdum in North 24 Parganas district became the fourth person in the state to test positive for novel coronavirus on Saturday, a health department official said.

Asked about his travel history, he said that family members have categorically said the man has not made any recent trip abroad. "But they didn't divulge whether he had a history of recent inter-state travel."

Earlier in the day, a 22-year-old woman from Habra, who returned from Scotland on March 19, tested positive for Covid-19.

Family members of both the patients have been quarantined.

The Mamata Banerjee dispensation issued a notification in the afternoon, directing closure of such public spots from Sunday, as a precautionary measure to prevent mass gatherings so that coronavirus can be contained.

The directive applied to massage parlours and hookah bars as well, an official said, adding that strict action would be taken in case of any violation.

The city's largest pet market at Galiff Street was also shut down for two weeks, he said.

The West Bengal Higher Education Department announced that the ongoing Class 12 board examinations in the state were postponed till April 15.

The state government has convened an all-party meeting on March 23 to discuss the situation arising out of the pandemic, sources said.

A communication has been sent to all the major political parties, urging them to attend the meeting at the state secretariat at 4 pm.

Speaking to a television channel, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the railways for not ensuring proper screening of the passengers and migrant workers entering the state in long-distance trains.

Banerjee said she had asked the chief secretary to communicate to the railway authorities about immediately stopping all long-distance trains to West Bengal, as the public sector behemoth was facilitating the return of migrant workers to the state "without proper screening".

"Yesterday, I had urged the Centre to stop the arrival of all international flights in West Bengal," she said.

On the availability of masks and hand sanitisers, Banerjee said the priority of her government was to supply those first to health workers, cleaning staff and police personnel.

"The small-scale sector in the state is manufacturing around 6,000 litres of alcohol-based hand sanitiser everyday. We will first supply it to those who are in the priority list and then it will be made available to the public," the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo said.

Meanwhile, the North 24 Parganas district administration sent a doctor with a travel history to the US to quarantine and closed his private chamber and nursing home.

The disaster management and civil defence department of the state said it had launched a helpline number to assist people with their queries regarding the pandemic.

On Saturday, 1,211 passengers were enlisted for observation, while 1,190 people were kept under home quarantine, a bulletin of the state's health department said.

A total of 19 passengers were sent to isolation wards in different hospitals, it added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, March 22 2020. 00:34 IST