West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday warned people against posting or sharing fake information on the COVID-19 pandemic, saying strong action would be taken against those found guilty. Banerjee, addressing a press meet at state secretariat Nabanna, said a fake post claiming a doctor treating coronavirus suspects has fallen ill was doing the rounds on social media, and investigating agencies are on the job trying to track the source of this "misinformation".
"This is totally false. Please don't play with fire. Our detective department, CID are working round the clock to track those behind such posts. We will take strong action after tracking them down," Banerjee said.
The chief minister also said the ones posting fake news on social media are fuelling fear and panic "at this hour of crisis". "Please refrain from spreading rumours. Those found guilty will be penalised."
The CM said all international flights to Kolkata will continue to remain suspended till April 14.
She thanked all religious leaders in the state for taking steps to avert public gathering at places of worship and said, "We will hold a meeting on March 31 to review the situation."
Banerjee said essential services will be available during the lockdown - imposed by the government to contain the spread of the disease - and marketplaces and grocery shops will remain open to cater to every day needs.
"Our task force is meeting three to four times a day to monitor the situation," she said.
Iterating that she has written to her counterparts in 18 states, requesting them to ensure workers from Bengal - stuck there due to the lockdown - be looked after, she said people from other states can approach her government if they face inconvenience, and "we will address their problems."
Banerjee asked officials to facilitate the opening of 27 night shelters for the homeless in the city.
The CM, who on Wednesday said those involved in home-delivery business should not be stopped by police, added "services have resumed...will pick up pace soon".
Asked about the unavailability of bread in grocery stores, she said, "We want bakeries to open, but how can you expect the workers to be on the job, given the present circumstances. If bread is unavailable, people will have to find an alternative."
Expressing her gratitude to those who have donated to the Bengal Emergency Relief Fund set up to combat the pandemic, the CM said donors will be given tax relief.
Later in the day, she distributed food grains among workers of unorganised sectors in Alipore area, in the presence of Kolkata Mayor and state minister Firhad Hakim.
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