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Mamata urges oppn leaders to unite to fight COVID-19 outbreak

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Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata 

As West Bengal reported its first Covid-19 death on Monday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged political parties to keep aside their differences and join hands in raising awareness on the coronavirus outbreak.

During an all-party meeting here, she also said the state needed more testing kits and requested BJP leaders to take up the matter with the Centre.

The chief minister, who earned accolades from leaders cutting across party lines for leading the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, asserted that there would be no dearth of foodgrains and essential items in the wake of the crisis.

"I have requested the Centre to send more kits. We do not have an adequate number of kits," she told Congress leader Abdul Mannan, when he suggested involving municipalities and panchayats for carrying out COVID-19 tests at public places across the state.

Talking to state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Jai Prakash Majumder and Sayantan Basu, Banerjee said, "Had we been provided with the Cyclone Bulbul package, it would have come handy in this situation."

"We have an extra burden of repaying loan...Please speak to the Centre to give us moratorium," she said.

To a question from Basu on migrant labourers returning home, she asked district officials to keep a tab on everyone entering the state.

"They (labourers) should furnish all details to the administration. There is no reason to panic. They should understand that quarantine, if advised, is for their safety. Quarantine is a matter of 14 days, it is not imprisonment," the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo insisted.

Communist Party of India (CPI) state secretary Swapan Banerjee requested the chief minister to take action against hoarders and black marketeers.

"Necessary steps will be taken against those hoarding and black-marketing items. We want to assure everybody that there will not be any dearth of foodgrains. People should not panic and take precautions," Banerjee said.

Banerjee urged all the political parties to come together for a resolution in the state assembly, demanding the creation of a fund that would aid the states fighting the outbreak.

"There should be a financial package for all the states. Centre should make a fund, from where aid would be provided to states to tackle the coronavirus outbreak," she said.

CPI(M) legislative party leader Sujan Chakraborty said all work related to census and NPR should be stopped in Bengal, to which Banerjee said no such work is taking place in the state.

A 57-year-old man died due to COVID-19 in Kolkata earlier in the day, the first coronavirus death in West Bengal since the outbreak of the disease.

The TMC government has imposed a lockdown in Kolkata and several parts of the state from Monday 5 pm till March 27 to prevent the spread of the disease.

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

First Published: Mon, March 23 2020. 23:56 IST