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Mamata welcomes Modi's 'stay indoors' proposal, urges him to stop int'l flights to Bengal

Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata 

Welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposal to stay indoors, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said she had urged him to stop all international flights to the state, as a precautionary measure to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

The chief minister, in the wake of two cases where COVID-19 patients did not abide by the quarantine rules, asserted that those coming from foreign countries should self-isolate themselves for 14 days or the administration would find ways to enforce the regulations.

"I appeal to people not to come out of home isolation...don't force the administration to take anyone to the quarantine centres...the government has the power to do so. And remember that quarantine (centre) is not a prison, it is a place where you are staying alone till declared fit," she said.

Banerjee also stressed on maintaining hygiene, wearing masks and washing hands from time to time.

"I have asked the prime minister to stop all international flights to Bengal. Bengal shares its border with three countries.... More than one lakh brothers and sisters recently returned from abroad. International flights are still coming to the city.

"Why are these flights being operated? They should be cancelled," she said, after attending a video-conference with the prime minister and other chief ministers.

Banerjee also said requests were made to the Centre to come up with a relief package for the unorganised sector, which was suffering due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) boss further said she had sought permission for private operators to conduct medical tests.

Earlier in the day, Banerjee made a slew of announcements, including the creation of a state emergency relief fund to collect aid from those willing to donate.

The West Bengal government would provide the foodgrains distributed through ration shops for free for the next six months, benefitting 7.5 crore people of the state, she said.

The chief minister also urged the Centre to provide more medical kits to tackle the crisis.

"I appealed to the Centre to send more kits immediately.... We welcome this 'ghar mein raho' (stay home) proposal, but we need more laboratories, better infrastructure," she said.

Banerjee announced that state government employees would work in rotation till March 31.

"From the next week, state government employees will work in rotation. Fifty per cent of them will work from home through the e-office system. This roster system will be in place till March 31," she said.

Asked if she supported Modi's "Janta curfew" proposal on Sunday, Banerjee said, "In this crisis situation, the prime minister has said something.... Let us all work together in tackling the coronavirus outbreak."

A man in his 20s, with a recent travel history to the United Kingdom, tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Friday, making it the second confirmed case in West Bengal.

Earlier this week, an 18-year-old man, who had just returned from the UK, tested positive for coronavirus.

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

First Published: Fri, March 20 2020. 21:16 IST