Defying security protocol and health advice on the COVID-19 crisis, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been leading from the front in her state’s response and overseeing preparedness to contain the novel coronavirus.
From holding review meetings, to coordinating with the Centre, to paying surprise visits to hospitals and markets – the CM has been diligent.
Not restricting herself to her air-conditioned cabin, Mamata for the past week has been personally interacting with citizens, vendors, bureaucrats, health workers, doctors and nurses to boost their moral and gauge the administration’s preparedness amid the lockdown.
On March 24, she first paid a surprise visit to NRS Medical College and Hospital and distributed masks and sanitisers to the health workers and doctors. Then, she visited SSKM Medical College and Hospital, RK Kar Medical College and Hospital, Beliaghata ID Hospital and the COVID-19 quarantine facility at Rajarhat.
At all the places, she had an interactions with the unit heads and handed over safety gear.
On Thursday, in a surprise move, Mamata paid an unannounced visit to several markets at Taltala, Posta, Janbazaar, New Market, Park Street, Gariahat, etc, and personally briefed the vendors on how to maintain physical distancing with customers while selling their wares.
She also drew circles on the road, with a piece of brick, to tell people how to maintain social distancing.
Her security officials were seen struggling to prevent the public from approaching closer to the 65-year-old chief minister because the coronavirus infection has been particularly severe on senior citizens.
“I request all customers and vendors to follow the guidelines. See here I am marking these circles and customers should stand in them. At regular intervals, you should sanitise the vegetable baskets with sanitisers. You should maintain distance from customers while handing over vegetables and while receiving the money. It’s better if you people wear gloves for safety,” Mamata told vegetable vendors, while demonstrating the safety guidelines personally at Jan Bazaar and Gariahat Market.
“Please use alcoholic-based hand sanitisers,” the CM told a vegetable seller in response to a query.
She conveyed similar instructions to other vendors, traders at various markets in the city. At Taltala market, while her convoy was passing a house, the Trinamool Congress chief noticed a cage full of birds.
She got down from the vehicle and asked the owner why the cage was dirty. She asked him to handover the birds to zoo authorities because he would not be able to take care of them properly in this crisis. “Chinta korben na, shob thik hoye jaabe. Shokoley miley laurai korte hobe (Don’t worry, everything will be alright. We have to fight this together),” she was heard telling the vendors.
Banerjee also instructed the police to stand beside the people in this crisis.