West Bengal invokes Epidemic Disease Act, sets up ₹200-cr fund to fight Covid-19
The West Bengal government on Monday invoked provisions of Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, created a fund of ₹200 crore and extended the closure of schools, colleges and universities till April 15 among a slew of new measures to prevent the outbreak of the Covid-19 disease in the state.
“West Bengal has special problems because while on population density of West Bengal is one of the highest and the state shares international orders with Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh. China is close by,” said Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal said on Monday after a meeting at the state secretariat.
Banerjee said that the provisions of Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 are being invoked so that no patient can escape while undergoing treatment for coronavirus.
“Initially we thought that people would understand the problem if we make them aware. But around 10 patients kept in isolation wards have told the district magistrate that they want to leave the hospital. So we are invoking provisions of the Act. This will give us a weapon to treat patients if the state wants,” said Banerjee.
The chief minister said that as statistics from across the world show that the disease was infecting the highest number of people in the fourth and fifth week, it has been decided to extend the suspension of schools, colleges and universities till April 15 as a precautionary measure.
“A fund of ₹200 crore has been created. We have also ordered around two lakh personal protective equipment, two lakh masks, 10,000 thermal guns and around 300 ventilators for hospitals. Those working in hospitals such as doctors and nurses will be given an insurance cover of ₹5 lakhs,” she added.
Cinema halls have been asked to close down till March 31. Filmmakers have also been asked to put shoots on hold till the same date. Religious leaders have been requested not to allow any large gatherings. Authorities have been asked to ensure increased frequency of trains and buses so that crowd could be avoided in public conveyance.
Bengal has not yet reported any case of coronavirus even as the number of positive cases in the country rose to 114 on Monday.