West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday hinted at bringing back Covid curbs in the state amid the threat of a possible third wave of the pandemic looming large, including shutting down educational institutions and identifying containment zones.
Banerjee, during an administrative review meeting at Sagar Island, asked officials concerned to review the overall pandemic situation in the state.
“COVID-19 cases are on the rise; there are a few omicron infections, too. So, a review of the situation is required. If the numbers keep increasing, we may consider closing down schools and colleges,” she said.
The CM, who visited the island to take stock of the arrangements for the annual Gangasagar mela, said that a decision on international flight and local train services will also be taken after the coronavirus situation is reviewed in Bengal.
“Some omicron cases are being detected among returnees who are arriving here on international flights… Evaluate and take a decision on the movement of international flights,” Banerjee told Chief Secretary H K Dwivedi and Health Secretary N S Nigam at the meeting.
She asked the officials to conduct a ward-to-ward survey and take a call on reintroducing containment zones in the metropolis.
Offices could be asked to function with 50 per cent employee attendance, if necessary, the chief minister said. “After January 3, we will decide on the Covid protocols.” Movement of local trains is unlikely to be impacted for the time being.
“Reduce the number of local trains if required, but this service will not be stopped for now as many livelihoods depend on it,” Banerjee said. She urged people to adhere to Covid protocols and not panic due to the rising number of omicron cases, as the variant was “less severe in terms of fatalities than the delta variant”.
Asking the officials to keep a tab on the vaccination programme of children aged 15-19 years starting January 3, Banerjee wondered why the Centre was keen on beginning booster doses when many beneficiaries were yet to get the second dose.
“They must complete giving the second dose first and then think on the booster shots… In fact, I am told vaccines are not working for the omicron variant,” she added.