The state government today warned of penal action for not wearing masks in public while West Bengal today recorded the highest number of deaths so far due to Covid and a steady spike in fresh cases as the total caseload crossed 20,000.

In the last 24 hours, 699 fresh cases and 18 deaths were recorded in the state with the situation in Kolkata, North 24 Parganas and Howrah continuing to remain serious.

In Kolkata, 182 people were detected COVID positive, eight died due to the infection and the total caseload has risen to 6,622. North 24 Parganas, which has been ranking second in the list of COVID affected districts has recorded 134 single day cases and three deaths with a total caseload of 3,382 and Howrah recorded 102 fresh cases, three deaths and total case count of 2,928.

Wearing of masks in public has already been made mandatory by the state government and now, it has been decided that penal action will be taken against people who violate it.

According to a notification issued by the state home department, “norms of physical distancing and wearing of masks must be strictly followed by all. The order makes it clear that violation in compliance of norms of physical distancing and wearing of masks shall attract penal action as per law”.

“….it is reiterated that anybody found in public places or on the road without wearing masks shall forthwith be asked to wear a mask and in failure to do son should be sent back. However, necessary penal action should be initiated for repeat offenders,” the notification read.

The district administration, municipalities, concerned departments and police authorities have been asked to strictly enforce the directive.Till now, 20,488 people have been detected Covidpositive in the state and 717 died due to the infection.

There are currently 6,200 active Covid cases.The discharge rate has increased to 66.23 per cent with a total of 13,751 patients recovering until now with 534 being discharged in a single day.

As on date, 23.25 per cent Covid beds are occupied in the hospitals with 8131 out of 10,594 beds in COVID designated government hospitals and 192 out of 1098 COVID beds in private hospitals unoccupied. Currently, 51,770 people are in-home quarantine, 6,287 in government quarantine centres and 14,771 migrant workers, who have reached Bengal from other states, are in quarantine centres.

A total of 347 mildly symptomatic COVID patients are in the 106 newly set up safe homes.