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Don’t Talk About Third Wave Like A Weather Update, Says Health Ministry

New Delhi: Considering the continued gross violations of COVID-19 at hill stations and city markets, the Health Ministry on Tuesday warned that such behaviour can nullify the gains made against the pandemic so far.

In a press briefing, Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry said the third wave of COVID-19 may be caused due to this behaviour. Quoting media reports of tourists who were flouting COVID norms, Lav said: “We feel like we have come out of jail after two years. There’s a huge crowd but we aren’t scared of Covid-19. We have come here before the third wave.”

“We talk about the ‘third wave’ as a weather update. What we fail to understand is that adherence to COVID appropriate behavior or the lack of it is what will prevent or cause any future waves,” he said.

Dr VK Paul, Member-Health, Niti Aayog said the third wave would not come “on its own”. “We the people will invite it,” he said. India witnessed a devastating second wave of the pandemic in April and May, which saw record cases and fatalities, amid a shortage of healthcare facilities and medical oxygen.

Most states at the time enforced strict lockdowns, but have now begun to open up. Thousands of tourists are visiting hill stations, as the daily coronavirus cases dip in the country. The Himachal Pradesh government had announced last month about the easing of COVID-19 restrictions following which, tourists started to head to higher altitudes, especially to Shimla, Kullu-Manali, and Dharamshala.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also called out mask-less tourists flocking to hill stations in huge numbers and those crowding markets, saying the third wave of coronavirus would hit the country “when we invite it”.

PM Modi, who was meeting chief ministers of the Northeast states amid concerns of rising COVID-19 cases, said: “It is true that tourism and business have been greatly affected due to coronavirus. But today, I will say very emphatically, that it is not okay to have huge crowds in hill stations, markets without wearing masks.”