KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said an advisory board set up by the state government has described organising Durga Puja festivities this year as a "big challenge" amid the COVID-19 crisis, and advocated erecting open marquees (pandals) as a precautionary measure to contain the virus spread.
Banerjee said the proposals of the 'Global Advisory Board' will be discussed in detail during a meeting with puja committees on September 25.
"They have given us a very good suggestion that the pandals should not be covered so as to allow enough ventilation. Places other than where idols will be kept should be left open from the top."
"We have accepted their proposal and during the meeting with puja committees on September 25, we will hold further discussions," Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.
She said the board, headed by Nobel laureate Abhijeet Vinayak Banerjee, during a virtual meeting on Monday, lauded the state government for the way in which it has dealt with the pandemic.
"It has expressed satisfaction on various grounds, including the increase in the number of COVID-19 beds and the rising number of sample tests," Banerjee said.
The board has also advised against reopening educational institutions in the state.
The chief minister claimed that the coronavirus death rate in West Bengal has reduced to 1.94 per cent and her government is making efforts to lower it even more.
"Out of the total deaths, 86 per cent are because of comorbidities. The death rate in our state has come down to 1.94 per cent (from around 9 per cent). We have to bring it down further and we will do it for sure," she said.
Banerjee also said the positivity rate in the state is 8.21 per cent, whereas it is 8.53 per cent across the country, while the discharge rate is 86.40 per cent against the national figure of around 77 per cent.