Kolkata, May 11 : With countrywide prolonged lockdown entering into the crucial final phase, all eyes and ears are now focused on the video conferencing meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the chief ministers at 3 pm on Monday. Besides the PM and CMs, some of the senior central ministers and cabinet secretaries are expected to be present in the meeting, which will be telecast live, sources here said today.
They said the prime minister and the chief ministers are expected to discuss, besides if any possibilities of extending the 3rd phase lockdown for some more days, they would spell out the shut down exit strategy as well as heavily impacted economy, which nearly came to standstill for prolonged lockdown in a bid to curb the pandemic.
Many core areas have been witnessing controlled relaxation like movement of Shramik special trains and Air India flights operated under Vande Bharat Mission to bring back the stranded people across India and abroad even as Coronavirus continues to be on rampage with lives perishing by hundreds and falling sick by thousands across the country. Reports also suggest that the return of the stranded migrant labourers in some remote villages also increased the spread of the virus.
Though the health protocol was being followed with the migrant labourers, but foolproof medical check up to detect the virus was not placed considering the logistical support with coming of thousands of people at a time. Sources said Union Home Minister, Health Minister, Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, Health Secretary, the DGP and other officials are also expected to participate in the video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi today.
This will be the fifth interaction between PM Modi and the chief ministers since the novel Coronavirus outbreak began in India in March. There are also reports suggesting that many organisations, even religious groups are canvassing for extension of lockdown up to the end of this month. The current 3rd phase lockdown is up to May 17. Bengal recorded 113 deaths with 14 more succumbing to Covid-19 pandemic and new confirmed cases accounted for 153 on Sunday, while historian Harishankar Vasudevan died of suspected pandemic in a city hospital. A State Government Health bulletin said with 153 more cases, total confirmed cases touched 1939 in the state, while the count of active cases accounted for 1337. Altogether 18 laboratories in the state are conducting tests for Covid-19, it stated. While 113 people died of Covid-19, 72 passed away due to Comorbidity. Altogether 417 people have been discharged so far, while the total number of samples tested stood at 43,414, the bulletin informed.
Meanwhile, a three-member Central team, including a nodal officer, arrived here today to study the pandemic's effect and its impact and coordinate with the state government to contain the dreaded virus, which has now taken nearly 100 lives for the past six weeks. The Central team would also visit the containment areas to oversee the lockdown follow-up and if the health protocol was maintained in quarantine centres and Covid hospitals.
This is the third Central team. Earlier, two teams with five members each, visited south Bengal and north Bengal and recommended some measures, including strict follow-up of lockdown regime, test as much as possible and transparency in identifying Covid patients and pandemic casualties. Meanwhile, the Bengal Imams’ Association, a major platform of the Islamic clerics in West Bengal, has appealed to chief minister Mamata Banerjee to extend the ongoing lock-down up to May 30 saying "Let people live first, celebrations ( Eid) can take place later". The BIA said at least not to lift the lockdown before Eid Ul Fitr, which is scheduled on May 25, under any circumstances.
“The Union government has extended lock-down till May 17. In our state, it has already been extended till May 21. The holy Eid Ul Fitr is on May 25. "The government may consider relaxing the lockdown due to Eid. But, we request the Bengal government to extend the lockdown for a few more days. "Let people live first, celebrations can take place later,” Md. Yahiya, chairman of the Bengal Imams’ Association in a letter on Saturday urged the chief minister. Imam Yahiya has opined that the current lockdown be extended further till May 30. “ We request you to raise this demand before the Union government as well. The Muslim leadership will stand by the government,” Imam Yahiya said. (UNI)