Recent images from hill stations and city markets showing people crowding without face masking and zero physical distancing is a matter of concern, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, stressing the need to follow covid protocols to beat the potential third wave of the pandemic. Addressing a virtual meeting of chief ministers from the eight northeastern states, Modi underlined the importance of obeying the basic rules such as wearing masks in public places, avoiding large gatherings and ensuring vaccination - to prevent a third wave of COVID-19 cases.

Prime Minister’s warning comes at a time when viral videos and images emerged from a popular hill station in North India where a large number of tourists can be seen travelling and not adhering to Covid protocols. Images from Manali, Himachal Pradesh had raised concerns over retrieving cases. 

"Tourism, business and business have indeedy affected due to coronavirus... but today I will say very emphatically that it is not okay to have huge crowds in hill stations and markets without wearing masks," Prime Minister Modi said.

"The virus does not come and go on its own... we bring it with us when we disobey the rules. Experts are warning us repeatedly that careless behaviour - like overcrowding will lead to an increase in Covid cases," he added.

He further said that steps should be taken to prevent crowds, adding that everyone needs to work together to stop the Covid-19 pandemic.  

He also flagged the rise of cases in the northeastern states and said it is “worrisome in some districts”. He told the chief ministers the need to stay alert and act quickly to control the virus from spreading. 

Last week, the health ministry data showed 47 of India's 73 districts with a positivity rate of over 10 per cent were from the northeast.

“The number of Covid-19 cases is rising. We need to take strict action to curb the situation at the micro-level. We need to keep an eye on Covid variants, experts are studying them. We need to encourage people to follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour. It's a matter of concern that people are travelling without face masks at hill stations and market places,” said PM Modi on Tuesday.

Speaking to the chief ministers, PM Modi said, “To combat the possible third wave of Covid-19, we need to continue to accelerate the vaccination process.”

Vaccination has been a subject of debate and sparked several controversies from the past few months, amid states complaining of a shortage of vaccine doses, pricing, severe side effects like blood clotting and hesitancy among people.

Hitting out at PM Modi and new Health Minister Mandaviya, Senior Congress leader Chidambaram said, "At this rate of vaccination, we will not be able to stop the third wave."

The virtual meeting was attended by chief ministers of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, among others, were also present. 

The Health Ministry last week strongly appealed to people to wear face masks and follow social distancing at all times and take vaccines. "We want to request the public to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour under all circumstances. You are not just exposing yourselves, but also near and dear ones and it can result in us losing the battle against Covid," Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said.







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