Kerala makes wearing face masks mandatory amid rising COVID-19 cases
With India recording 2,927 fresh COVID-19 infections in a day, the Kerala government on Wednesday made wearing face masks mandatory. The Pinarayi Vijayan-led government order said that those found violating the compulsory mask rule will be punished. Notably, other states including Delhi, Karnataka, and Punjab have also brought back the mask rule as the country is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases.
- After a decline in COVID-19 cases, Kerala had eased several restrictions in February.
- State Health Minister Veena George had earlier said that there was no immediate concern, adding the government would "continue to remain vigilant since other states are reporting an increase in the number of cases."
- Notably, among the 32 fatalities that were reported in the past 24 hours, 26 were from Kerala.
In its latest order, the Kerala government made wearing masks in public places, workplaces, gatherings, and during transport compulsory. The order was issued by the chief secretary, who is also the chairperson of the state disaster management authority. The order also stated that those not following the mask rule would be punished under provisions of the Disaster Management Act and other rules in force.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with chief ministers of states and union territories on the emerging COVID-19 situation in the country through video conferencing on Wednesday. He cited the rising COVID-19 cases in some states during the past fortnight and asserted the need to remain alert. PM Modi reminded the CMs that the threat of coronavirus is not fully gone yet.
"We have to implement our strategy of 'Test, Track, and Treat' equally effectively. In the current situation of coronavirus, it is necessary that we have 100% RT-PCR testing for patients admitted in hospitals who are serious influenza cases," PM Modi said.
PM Modi said that administering the COVID-19 vaccine to every eligible child at the earliest is the government's priority. Schools will conduct specialized programs in this regard. The prime minister appreciated the fact that 96% adult population in the country has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, and said it is a "matter of pride for every Indian."
Delhi—which added the most COVID-19 cases for any state/UT on Wednesday—made wearing masks mandatory last week. Those violating the rule will be fined Rs. 500. Wearing masks is mandatory in UP's Gautam Budh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Meerut, Bulandshahr, and Baghpat districts in NCR; and Lucknow. Telangana, Punjab, and four Haryana districts bordering Delhi—Gurgaon, Faridabad, Sonipat, and Jhajjar—have also made masks mandatory.