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Mamata rules out lockdown in Bengal, assures shots for all above 18 from May 5

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Kolkata, Apr 21: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of lockdown in the state in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 and said universal vaccination for those who are above 18 will start from May 5.

The Election Commission should take steps to ensure that postal ballot facilities are made available for COVID-19 patients admitted in hospitals, the TMC supremo said.

Mamata Banerjee

She iterated her demand for proper supply of vaccines and oxygen from the central government.

We are not in favour of any lockdown. We want everyone to adhere to COVID-19 norms such as wearing masks, maintaining social distancing norms and using sanitisers. We dont want people to return to the days of being forced to stay back at homes.

"Notebandi r moto grihobandi" (forced to stay at home like forced to go through the travails of demonetisation). Lockdown is not a solution as it takes a heavy toll on people, jobs, economy, she said addressing a press conference here.

Criticising the disparity in vaccine prices, Banerjee said it is the duty of the Centre to ensure that it is not so.

Urge EC with folded hands to curtail poll schedule amid COVID-19 surge: Mamata BanerjeeUrge EC with folded hands to curtail poll schedule amid COVID-19 surge: Mamata Banerjee

I am writing a strong letter to the Centre on the discrimination in the pricing of the vaccines. The vaccine producing companies are charging different rates from the Centre, states and private hospitals for the same vaccine.

"Why this discrimination? Is this time to make business with vaccines? she asked.

In West Bengal universal vaccination from the age of 18 will start from May 5 as the election process is still on and will be over on May 2, she said.

Demanding proper supply of vaccines and oxygen from the central government, the chief minister said "So far around one crore people has been vaccinated in Bengal. We have already applied for one crore more doses of the vaccines as there is a severe shortage. The Centre should ensure smooth supply of vaccine, medicine and oxygen," she said.

Banerjee asked state government officials to ensure that there is no black marketing of oxygen cylinders as there is severe shortage of it in West Bengal.

She said the EC should introduce a process to ensure that the corona-affected who are in hospitals can vote through postal ballot in the remaining three phases of polling for the West Bengal assembly.

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