Himanta Sarma defends 'no need for mask' comment, says Assam will celebrate Bihu
A day after Assam health minister Hinta Biswa Sarma's comment that there is no need to wear a mask in the state went viral, the minister defended his comment and said those who thought his statement was funny should come to Assam to see how the eastern state has reined in the spread of the infection. He also said that the state will celebrate Bihu, which is on April 14, this year.
In an interview during his election campaign, Sarna was asked why he and people with him were not wearing a mask. "In Assam, there is no Covid. Now we have to revive the economy. If we wear a mask, then how can beauty parlours function? I will tell people when to wear the mask, if there is a need," Himanta said, at a time the country is seeing a second surge of the pandemic.
As of April 4, Assam has 1,945 active Covid-19 cases, one of the lowest among the states. The state has remained insulated from the second wave of the pandemic that is being felt in most of the states. In recent days, the state has also started reporting zero death.
On Sunday, the state made a negative RT-PCR report mandatory for all travellers from Mumbai and Bengaluru.
His comment drew flak as the Centre is constantly alerting states to not lower their guards against the spread. "We have the first state in the country or rather the world whose Health Minister has declared it COVID free and has advised no masks needed, no COVID protocols to be followed either. We must all celebrate the feat & get WHO to endorse it! I urge GoI to do the needful!" Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted on Sunday. The Assam minister's reply comes in an oblique reference to the Sena leader's jibe.