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Second coronavirus positive case in Bengal, Mamata wants immediate ban on international flights

Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata 

West Bengal reported its second coronavirus case on Friday with a youth having a travel history to the UK testing positive, prompting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban all international flights to the state with immediate effect.

The 22-year-old resident of Kolkata who is pursing higher studies in the UK had returned on March 13 and was admitted to the Beliaghata ID Hospital here on Thursday with COVID-19 symptoms, health officials said.

Swab of the patient was collected and the reports received from the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) confirmed that he had contracted the deadly virus, a health department official said.

The youth reported to the Beliaghata ID Hospital on March 19 only after learning about the health status of his friends in Chandigarh and Chhattisgarh, who have tested positive, the official said.

Eleven of his family members, domestic helps and drivers were sent to the quarantine unit at Rajarhat in two special ambulances, he added.

The official said the youth, a resident of the Ballygunge area, disregarded the advice for medical tests and visited public places, just like the state's first novel coronavirus patient had reportedly done a few days ago.

The officials are now trying to ascertain the number of people who had come in contact with him.

Earlier this week, an 18-year-old man, who returned from England on March 15, tested positive for the virus.

A miffed Banerjee announced two weeks of compulsory home quarantine for those returning from abroad and warned that if they fail to do so, her government would put them under forced quarantine.

Following her directive, two women who had recently returned to Kolkata from abroad, were taken to the hospital by police after they disregarded the advice of self isolation and were found to be strolling near their apartment.

Welcoming Modi's proposal of staying indoors, Banerjee urged him during a video-conference interaction with him, to ban with immediate effect all international flights to the state.

"I have asked them to immediately stop all international flights to Bengal. Bengal shares border with three countries...More than one lakh brothers and sisters recently returned from abroad. International flights are still coming to the city. They should be stopped immediately," she said.

The DGCA on Thursday had issued instructions that no international commercial flight will be allowed to disembark its passengers, foreigners or Indians, on Indian soil after 1.30 am on March 23.

The Centre also issued a statement that no international flight would be allowed to land in India from March 22 onward for a period of one week.

Addressing the media at the state secretariat here, Banerjee said, "We welcome this 'ghar mein raho' proposal, but we should also be provided with infrastructure, more kits to tackle the problem."

Modi had on Thursday called for a 'janata curfew' on March 22 from 7 am to 9 pm, saying no citizen, barring those in essential services, should get out of their house.

Banerjee said she also requested the Centre to come up with a relief package for the unorganised sector, which according to her is currently suffering due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier in the day, she made a slew of announcements, including asking state government employees to come on rotation till March 31 and 50 per cent employees will work from home through e-office system.

She said that a state emergency relief fund is being created to receive donations from those who want to donate, in order to fight the pandemic.

Banerjee announced that the state government would provide free food grains under the PDS system for next six months, benefitting 7.5 crore people of the state.

The state Public Service Commission postponed all written examinations, scheduled from March 21 to April 5, and ongoing physical endurance tests, as a precautionary measure.

The state correctional home department has decided not to allow visitors to meet the convicts till March 31, as a precautionary measure.

The iconic Coffee House at College Street, for the first time since its inception, on Friday announced closure till March 31.

At least two prominent shopping malls have responded to Prime Minister's janata-curfew call and decided to stay shut.

A woman, who recently returned from Spain to her hometown Siliguri, disregarded doctor's advice of home quarantine and went out on a walk with her dog on Friday, triggering panic in the area.

On Friday, 1,118 passengers have been enlisted for observation while 1,128 people were kept under home surveillance, a bulletin of the state health department said.

As many as 14 passengers were sent to the hospital isolation ward 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: Fri, March 20 2020. 22:18 IST