GUWAHATI: A day after he said wearing masks was not important in the context, state minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday maintained that the pandemic had been contained in the state.
On why people were not wearing masks, Sarma, also the state finance minister, had on Saturday told an online news website ‘The Lallantop’, “It is not not necessary. Centre’s instructions are there, but in the context of Assam, today there is no Covid here. Why wear masks unnecessarily and create panic. When the situation demands, I will inform people to wear masks. I have to revive the economy… how can beauty parlours function… they too have to survive.”
After the comment created a row, on Sunday he tweeted, “Those who are making fun on my statement on mask, must come to Assam and see how we have contained Covid-19 in comparison to the states like Delhi, Kerala and Mahrashtra along with impressive recovery of oyur economy. We will celebrate Bihu [Assamese new year starting on April 14] also with same enthusiasm.”
The campaigning for the last phase of assembly election in the state ended on Sunday and the almost three months of high profile campaigning by PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, JP Nadda, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, there was no visibility of people following Covid safety protocols in the campaign rallies and social distancing and wearing of masks remained only on paper.
Assam on Sunday recorded 69 new cases, of which 48 have been detected in Guwahati alone. And while the positivity rate shot up from 2.2% four weeks ago to 7.1% per cent in the country, Assam’s test positivity rate remains under 1%. Two persons died of Covid on Sunday.
Sarma added, “Our daily new cases have been between 50 and 60 in last few days and there is nothing to worry except for making tests at railway stations and airports more strict.”
The Assam NHM has ordered mandatory on-arrival RT-PCR for all symptomatic passengers arriving in trains originating or transiting through Maharashtra and Karnataka. Mandatory RT-PCR tests have been continuing at airports.