Urging people not to panic over the spread of Coronavirus, chief minister Mamata Banerjee today said that she would request the Centre for assistance to ensure there is no problem following the unavailability of medicines and equipment manufactured in China. “As medicines and equipment that were being imported from China have stopped, we don’t want people to face any problem. I would write to the Centre seeking assistance in this regard,” said Miss Banerjee at a press conference in Nabanna after holding a high-level meeting to combat the spread of the virus.

All departmental secretaries, police and senior officials from Railways, civil aviation, airport and KoPT attended the meeting. Simultaneously video conference was held with all the DMs and SPs of all districts. According to Miss Banerjee, until now, no positive case of Coronavirus, which can cause a respiratory illness that can lead to pneumonia, has been detected in Bengal. In contrast, a total of 1,42,811 people have been screened for the virus in the state of which 234 were kept in isolation.

Further, Miss Banerjee warned of stern action against businessmen and hoarders who try to create “artificial scarcity” of facial masks and hand sanitisers saying: “We’ll take strict action against such hoarders. Law will take its course”. She directed the police and enforcement personnel to keep a close watch on the situation. Miss Banerjee offered land to the Centre if it wished to set up any testing centre in the state as currently there is only one laboratory. The state government has set up a 24/7 call centre (1800313444222) and a helpline number (033- 23412600) for people in case of any problem.

Advertisements displaying the detailed dos and don’ts would be distributed to people. “Our monitoring system will remain operative 24/7,” she said, adding that the state government is doing its best to handle the situation. A daily bulletin is being issued at the health department’s website. A detailed advisory has been issued to all the districts, private hospitals, panchayats and municipalities and awareness would be generated. Quick Response Teams have also been set up. The World Health Organisation (WHO) held a meeting in Delhi today and five representatives from Bengal have been sent to attend it, she said.

“We will incorporate any further directives that are issued during the meeting,” she added. Miss Banerjee advised people to wash their hands frequently and abstain from going to crowded places. She asked people not to panic if they fall sick and instead see a doctor. A 14-day rest is enough to cure a disease, she added. Particular attention should be given to the children and parents should ensure that school-goers take necessary precautions, she said.

“We will begin surveillance at the domestic terminals as many people who have arrived from foreign countries travel in domestic airlines,” she said adding that similar surveillance would be started in railway stations and ports. With Bhutan banning the entry of tourists for two weeks after it confirmed its first case of the Coronavirus in a tourist today, the check posts along the border have been strengthened, and screening facilities have been improved there, Miss Banerjee said.

Directives have been issued to the officials of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and other hill areas to generate awareness and take special care of the tourists. Elaborating on the host of measures that have already been taken by the state government, Miss Banerjee said all screening facilities had been put up at all the checkpoints and airports of the state.