Kolkata: People resorted to panic buying in several markets of West Bengal on Thursday disregarding social distancing norms, ahead of the imposition of a total lockdown in the containment zones in the state.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on Wednesday said a lockdown will be imposed in the containment zones for seven days starting from 5 pm during the day to check the surge in COVID-19 cases.
She has directed the police to firmly deal with those violating the norms put in place in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Banerjee has approved a list of 25 containment zones in Kolkata, 93 in North 24 Parganas and 56 in Howrah district.
However, despite a complete ban on mass gatherings, people were seen jostling in markets in Kolkata to buy essential commodities before the commencement of the lockdown.
Long queues were witnessed outside department stores as people bought commodities for storage during the lockdown period.
They also lined up outside gas agencies to buy additional LPG cylinders in the wake of the lockdown.
Police resorted to force to ensure order and social distancing norms, besides asking people through public address systems to remain indoors and not to panic as the government will ensure supply of essential commodities during the lockdown period.
West Bengal had on Wednesday witnessed the highest single-day spike of 986 COVID-19 cases, taking the state's virus count to 24,823, the health department said in a bulletin.
The state had also reported 23 new fatalities on the previous day, taking the death toll to 827, it added.