The number of COVID-19 cases in West Bengal increased to nine as the State witnessed a near-total lockdown following the advisory issued earlier by the State government.
Two new cases surfaced on Tuesday; both patients have a history of foreign travel. While one person returned from London, the other returned from Egypt recently. Significantly, the Egypt-returned patient tested negative earlier. Both of them are in isolation at Infectious Diseases and Beliaghata General Hospital in north Kolkata.
On Monday, a 57-year-old patient died of the viral infection at a private health facility in the State. It was the first COVID-19-related death in the city.
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Meanwhile, the State government formed a high-level committee comprising a Calcutta High Court judge and an officer from prison reforms in the rank of Director General to review the situation in various jails in the State. The committee will submit its report by March 31.
There was violence in Dum Dum Central jail last week. A section of press reported deaths due to firing.
Shops, offices shut
Meanwhile, shops and commercial establishment offices remained shut and there were fewer people on the roads.
Heavy deployment of police could be seen across Kolkata, which is almost completely deserted on the second day of a five-day lock down from Monday to Friday.
Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma said that 255 persons were arrested for violating restriction order and prosecuted under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobeying public servant’s order).
“I appeal to all citizens to #StayHome and cooperate with the administration @KolkataPolice will continue the drive against violators,” Mr. Sharma said.
In many areas in Kolkata and outside the city, police and rapid action force could be seen since morning, chasing and mildly beating auto-rickshaw drivers who were plying passengers.
A few auto-rickshaw drivers were beaten up in Basirhat in North 24 Paraganas, according to a private message by an intelligence officer.
Ordinary citizens, who went out of their houses to hang around in the neighbourhood, were either picked up or chased away by police.
“My brother went out to have paan and was slapped by a policeman near Gariahat,” said Rajib Dhar, a south Kolkata resident.
In other areas too, police lathi-charged on small gatherings at tea stalls.
In certain districts like Malda and Cooch Behar, markets were open in the morning but every shop was shut as the day progressed.
The lockdown will continue till the midnight of March 27. In Kolkata, the city police was seen intercepting vehicles and motorcycles on the road.
A statement from Bengal Imam Association said that mosques in the State will remain closed and outsiders will not be allowed. It added that Azaan (prayers) would continue.
Religious bodies like the Ramakrishna Mission, ISKCON in Mayapur and Kalighat temple have in the past few days taken measures to prevent gathering of people.
The Park Circus Anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protest, referred to as Kolkata’s Shaheen Bagh, will also restrict the gathering.
“In the wake of Coronavirus situation, we have asked those joining the protest to go home. The number of protesters at the Park Circus Maidan will be restricted to seven. Not more than seven people will be allowed,” said Ashmat Jamil ,one of the organisers of the protest, told The Hindu .
The protest started about three months ago.