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'Zara Sochiye': Why Visuals of Crowds Swarming Tourist Spots is Terrifying the Govt

Union Health Ministry briefing

Union Health Ministry briefing

I want to put it on record that the visuals we are seeing are a serious cause of concern, said Lav Agarwal.

Using a photo of scores of half-naked revellers enjoying themselves at a waterfall - no mask in sight and social distancing taking a deep dive - the government expressed grave concern on Friday as it cautioned that scenes like these were ‘open invitations to Covid-19’.

“Zara sochiye (just think),"Lav Agarwal, joint secretary of the Union health department said pointing towards the picture.

“It is an open invitation for Covid-19 to infect us. The spread of infection in the community is linked to our behaviour," he exclaimed.

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The photo in their background was taken from a video that went viral recently showing tourists flouting Covid-19 norms at Mussoorie’s Kempty falls prompting the authorities to cap the number of visitors at the popular spot to 50. Additionally, now people will be allowed to bathe only for 30 minutes.

Despite the looming threat of the third wave of Covid-19, videos and pictures of long queues of private vehicles, overcrowded tourist locations have raised alarm.

“We are still dealing with the second wave and need to introspect if we can afford this misplaced belief that Covid-19 is over," Agarwal warned.

Recently, a similar video posted on social media showed a little boy walking on a crowded street and scolding everyone who was walking without a mask in Dharamshala. The video was originally shared on Instagram and later on Twitter as well.

“This is concerning. I want to put it on record that the visuals we are seeing are a serious cause of concern.

Agarwal referred to recent spikes in cases in some countries, including Russia and the UK, to caution people against lowering their guard. He pitched strictly following Covid-19 protocols such as wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing.

He said more than half of the COVID-19 cases reported in India last week were from two states — Maharashtra (21 per cent) and Kerala (32 per cent) — and stressed following containment measures. The official said 80 per cent of the new Covid cases in India are reported from 90 districts in 15 states and union territories, which indicates the need for focussed attention in these areas. He also said 66 districts across 17 states and UTs reported a Covid-19 positivity rate of more than 10 per cent in the week ending July 8.

The government said no case of Lambda variant of COVID-19 has been reported in India. India logged 43,393 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of cases to 3,07,52,950, while the active cases have declined to 4,58,727, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.

The death toll has climbed to 4,05,939 with 911 fresh fatalities. NITI Aayog member (Health) V K Paul said COVID-19 in pregnant women can increase certain risks like pre-term delivery, that is why it is important for them to take vaccine.

(With PTI Inputs)

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first published:July 09, 2021, 17:09 IST