West Bengal government extends suspension of local trains until August 30 as part of COVID-19 restrictions

Published : August 12, 2021 21:19 IST

Outside a primary health centre in Siliguri, people wait to get vaccinated against COVID-19, on August 12. Photo: DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced on August 12 that the intra-State movement of local trains will continue to remain suspended till August 30 as part of the ongoing COVID restrictions and because of the imminent outbreak of the third wave. At the same time, the government announced more relaxations as the COVID positivity rate slid to 1.5 per cent.

Addressing a press conference Mamata Banerjee said, “If I can get 50 per cent of the people in the districts of North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Bardhaman, Nadia – the districts from where people commute to Kolkata daily – I will allow local trains…. I realise people have grievances against not allowing local trains, but we have to wait a little longer and observe the third wave, which is expected in September. According to experts the third wave may affect children.” She claimed that in spite of an efficient vaccination programme in the State, the government is not receiving sufficient vaccines from the Centre. “We need a total of 14 crore doses, and we have been able to administer so far 3.32 crore, of which 2.39 crore was the first dose…. Our vaccination process is the best in the country, but we are not getting sufficient vaccines,” she said.

Denying reports that COVID cases are on the rise in the State, Mamata Banerjee said that the number of positive cases were fluctuating between 600 and 800. “During the eight-phase Assembly election the positivity rate had gone up to 33 per cent, but we have managed to bring it down to 1.5 per cent,” she said. Alongside the existing relaxations, Mamata Banerjee has also eased the night curfew from the existing 9 p.m.-5 a.m. to 11 p.m.-5 a.m.

On August 12, 747 new cases were registered in the State and 10 people lost their lives. The total number of active cases in the State stood at 10,091. The discharge rate stood at 98.15 per cent and the mortality rate at 1.19 per cent. The occupancy rate in the COVID beds in hospitals stood at 3.78 per cent.

Release of life convicts

Mamata Banerjee also announced that because of the COVID situation the government was allowing premature release of convicts serving life sentences. On August 2, 63 life convicts were released – 61 male convicts who were over 60 years of age and two female convicts over 55 years of age. “Since we are taking into consideration the COVID situation, we have decided to release 73 more prisoners on humanitarian grounds, so they can stay with their families. Sixty-six of those released are men and seven are women,” Mamata Banerjee said.