A strict seven-day lockdown was clamped in all containment zones across West Bengal from Thursday evening as the state witnessed the highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The state Thursday registered the highest single-day increase of 1,088 COVID-19 cases, taking its tally to 25,911. It also reported 27 deaths, raising the toll to 854, officials said.
The containment zones which went into lockdown from 5 pm Thursday are spread across 20 of the state’s 23 districts, they said.
The state government has listed 25 containment zones in Kolkata, 93 in North 24 Parganas, 54 in South 24 Parganas and 56 in Howrah -- the top four hotspot districts.
The containment zones and buffer zones around them have been clubbed together to constitute a 'broad-based' containment zone, where the total shutdown has been imposed, the officials said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on Wednesday said the lockdown would be in place for a week, and the situation will be reviewed after that.
She had also directed the police to firmly deal with those violating the pandemic-related norms in the wake of the relentless rise in infections.
Police personnel were seen patrolling the streets in the containment zones and asking pedestrians to return to their homes and shopkeepers to down shutters.
Barricades were put up outside such zones to stop vehicular movement.
Ahead of the lockdown coming into force, people resorted to panic-buying in several areas, disregarding social distancing norms, the officials said.
Long queues of people were witnessed outside grocery stores and LPG outlets in Kolkata.
Police resorted to mild force in some places to ensure that safety protocols were adhered to, besides asking people through public address systems to remain indoors.
The state government has said it will make arrangements for home delivery of essential commodities during the lockdown period in the containment zones.
The clamping of lockdown saw local transport like rickshaws, auto-rickshaws disappear from the containment zones with the police barricading these areas.
According to private bus operators, the number of their buses in the city and adjoining districts may go down from Friday since a large number of staff stay in in the containment zones of North and South 24 Parganas districts.
They won't be able to join work till the lockdown is in force.
The seven-day lockdown by the TMC government triggered a political blame game, with opposition BJP and the CPI (M) slamming the ruling dispensation for allegedly being "clueless about the entire situation".
"The state government is clueless about what it has to do and what not to do. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee along with other TMC ministers has flouted lockdown norms, thereby encouraging others to follow suit," said state BJP president Dilip Ghosh.
CPI (M) legislature party leader Sujan Chakraborty said had the state government implemented the lockdown sincerely since March, the situation would have been much better.
The TMC, however, defended its government and blamed the Centre for imposing an "unplanned" lockdown.
"The present situation, both in the state and across the country, is solely due to the unplanned Lockdown announced by the central government from March 25 and the migrant labour crisis.
"The state government is doing its best to control the situation and provide relief to the people," senior TMC leader and minister Partha Chatterjee said.