Baidu boss Robin Li unveils ‘robocar’, his vision for the future of autonomous…Leaders: Mt Kenya votes ‘not free’a group of people around each other: Patna: Women purchase 'rakhi' ahead of Raksha Bandhan festival, in Patna, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (PTI Photo)(PTI02-08-2020_000111B) (PTI)© Provided by Hindustan Times Patna: Women purchase ‘rakhi’ ahead of Raksha Bandhan festival, in Patna, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (PTI Photo)(PTI02-08-2020_000111B) (PTI)

Amid apprehensions of a third wave of Covid-19, the West Bengal government has decided to distribute face masks on Raksha Bandhan this year instead of rakhis.

“This year the government would distribute face masks on Raksha Bandhan day instead of rakhis. The state youth services and sports department would be purchasing around 635,000 rakhis for this purpose. The police and other departments would also be distributing masks,” said a senior official of the department.

Even though West Bengal had reported more than 20,000 Covid-19 cases on a single day in mid-May, the number of daily cases has come down to 600 – 800 at present. On Wednesday, 646 new cases were reported from the state,and seven people lost their lives to the infection.

“There are apprehensions that a third wave could hit sometime around September. The festive season is coming too. We need to be on guard,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said.

The state health department is planning to speed up the vaccination process in the adjoining districts of Kolkata so that local trains could be resumed.

Local suburban trains connect Kolkata and Howrah with the villages and towns of the adjoining districts and thus form a major lifeline for the people coming to Kolkata for work every day. Howrah and Sealdah stations cater to more than two million passengers every day.

“The government is targeting districts such as South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Nadia and parts of Bardhaman where 50% of the people need to be vaccinated with at least one dose before local trains resume,” said another official.

In Kolkata, while around 3.86 million people have received the first dose, around 1.38 million people have received their second dose as well. The city has a population of around 4.5 million, as per the 2011 census.

Compared to this, North 24 Parganas, which is the second most densely populated district in India, and has a population of more than 10 million, received around 2.7 million first doses.

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