Tamil Nadu may consider introducing mask mandate in the state if coronavirus cases surge beyond the 500 or 1,000 mark, Health Minister Ma Subramanian said on Tuesday and asserted that it is ideal to wear face masks in crowded places.
The State is witnessing a gradual increase in cases, at present, with few cases being reported by the day and there have been five ”incidental” coronavirus deaths so far, he said.
”The government has not announced any relaxation in the Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and it is safe to wear face masks in crowded places,” Subramanian said responding to a call attention motion brought by Leader of Opposition K Palaniswami in the Assembly. Though masks are still compulsory as per the Centre’s advisory, people were not taking it seriously, he said.
Raising the issue, Palaniswami wondered if people should wear masks as coronavirus cases are increasing by the day and sought to know what steps are being taken by the State government to prevent the spread. ”There is fear among the people. The Minister says that face mask is mandatory only for doctors, medial staff, patients and visitors in hospitals. Should the public wear masks or not?” he asked.
The State saw about 386 positive cases in the last one-and-a-half months’ time, recording about 5-10 cases on an average per day, the Minister said. Since, the pandemic spreads from hospitals, the government had made wearing of face masks compulsory in about 11,333 hospitals across Tamil Nadu from April 1, Subramanian said. Though mask is compulsory, people were not taking it seriously after the third wave from December 2021 to February 2022, he added.
The present outbreak could be called the fourth wave if there is a spurt in cases. Following the gradual increase in cases, Chief Minister M K Stalin has directed the health department to introduce mask mandate for the public if the cases breached 500 or 1,000, the Minister said and claimed the situation was well under control in the state. Apart from 64,281 beds and oxygen concentrators at the government and private health facilities, the State had enough stock of medicines.
Moreover, the State has the capacity to increase the bed strength to 1.48 lakh in 24 hours if required. ”Hence, there is no need for apprehension regarding coronavirus infection but we should all exercise caution. People with co-morbidities should be extra cautious and follow the government regulations,” he appealed.