GUWAHATI: Amid the surging cases of Covid-19 in India, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in an interview said that there is no need of wearing a mask, as there is no coronavirus in Assam.
His comment came when India is witnessing a second wave of Covid-19 with several states ramping up their measures to contain the spread of the disease. Meanwhile, on Saturday India reported over 90,000 Covid-19 cases.
In an interview with The Lallantop, Sarma was asked why he thinks there is no need to wear a mask despite several states strengthening Covid-19 restrictions. Sarma in his response stated, "Nahi hai toh nahi hai. Main kya karun? (If there is no need to wear a mask then what can I do?)"
Sarma who has been campaigning amidst a sea of people ahead of the third phase of assembly elections when reminded about the Centre's direction to follow covid protocols said "The Centre might give its directives but in the context of Assam, as on present date, Covid is almost non-existent."
He further added that Covid-19 has already left Assam.
Defending his stance on not wearing a mask he further stated that, "Why there is a need to create panic among the public by asking them to wear a mask. Whenever there will be a necessity, will inform the public to do so,' added Sarma.
Speaking about the economy, he asserted that now its time to focus on reviving the economy.
"We need to revive the economy now. If you wear masks, how will parlours run? Beauty parlours also need to run,' stated Sarma.
The Health Minister who will be contesting from the Jalukbari constituency, which will be going to polls on the third phase on April 6 said, "I have told people that this is an interim relief. The day I feel there is a threat from Covid-19, people will be asked to wear a mask again. Violation then will attract a fine of Rs 500."
When pointed out that after elections there would be a surge in the Covid case. The Minister said that it was earlier also said that after Bodoland Territorial Council BTC elections there will be a rise in Covid cases but nothing happened. The same is being said for the Assam elections but nothing will happen.
The minister also informed that the state will also celebrate Bihu in a grand way and he is confident that nothing will happen.
On being asked whether he has consulted with experts in this matter or is he speaking just as an administrator, he said there is no need to speak to experts on it. "We have seen Covid-19 very closely for one year. The relaxation on relief can be an interim relief as well as a final relief. The day we record more than 100 daily cases, we will hold a press conference and ask people to start wearing mask," he said.
Sarma who also holds the finance portfolio added that Assam's economy is currently growing at 18-19 per cent and the people need relief because they have suffered for a year and now it is not required to push them back to the same situation.
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