Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that people not wearing masks and crowding hill stations and markets was a cause of concern amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Addressing a virtual meeting with chief ministers of North Eastern states which have recorded a rise in Covid-19 cases in the last few days, Modi stressed that it was necessary to follow protocols in order to prevent a third wave of the pandemic.
“It is true that Covid-19 has affected tourism and businesses severely,” Modi said. “But I would like to point out that people not wearing masks and crowding at hill stations and markets is a matter of concern.”
On July 10, the Centre also flagged the surge of tourists to hill stations and warned states that the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic was not over yet. This came after photos and videos showed large crowds thronging hill stations without following Covid-appropriate behaviour.
As many as 32,900 tourists visited Nainital in Uttarakhand, while 20,000 went to Mussoorie in the hill state during the last weekend, according to The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, speaking about the surge of infections in North Eastern states, Modi underlined the importance of ramping up testing of samples and tracking those found to be infected. Citing an example of a policy implemented by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the prime minister asked the state governments to set up micro-containment zones. He said this strategy can be helpful in holding specific officials accountable for rise in infections in an area.
Data from the Union health ministry showed that of the 58 districts in the country that reported a positivity rate of higher than 10% between July 5 and July 11, as many as 37 were from the North Eastern states, according to The Indian Express. Three out of every five districts in the region registered a positivity rate more than 10% over the past week.
The prime minister is also scheduled to speak to the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Kerala and Maharashtra on July 16, PTI reported. These states have either not recorded a general decline in cases or are registering a surge in several districts.
India recorded 32,906 new cases coronavirus cases and 2,020 deaths in 24 hours upto Monday morning. The country now has 3,09,07,282 total cases since the pandemic broke out in January last year. The sudden jump in the toll was because Madhya Pradesh added 1,478 backlog deaths from the second wave of the pandemic till June 30 to its existing record. As many as 4,10,784 people have died due to the infection so far.