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The Delhi administration on Wednesday revived the mask mandate in the  capital, where covid-19 numbers are creeping up. According to a person familiar with the matter, those found without masks in public areas will be fined 500.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) chaired by lieutenant governor Anil Baijal, and attended by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, All India Institute of Medical Sciences director Randeep Guleria, National Diseases for Disaster Control director S.K. Singh and others. 

“In view of the rise in covid-positive cases recently, as advised by the experts, it was decided to enhance testing, focus on vaccination coverage of targeted population and ensure strict enforcement of covid-appropriate behaviour. It was decided to make the wearing of masks mandatory in public places. It was also emphasized that in consultation with experts standard operating procedures (SOPs) for prevention and management of covid-19 should be laid down for schools and their strict enforcement by school management should be ensured," Baijal tweeted. 

“In the larger interests of students, in case of non-compliance or violation of SOPs, penalty as deemed appropriate should be imposed for creating a deterrent effect. Advised all the agencies to remain vigilant and work in coordination to tackle the situation as it emerges," Baijal tweeted further. DDMA was expected to issue an official order late on Wednesday, or on Thursday.  At its last meeting on 30 March, DDMA had withdrawn the fine of 500 for not wearing masks and, as a result, many stopped wearing it, leading to a surge of covid cases in the city. 

Dr Vikas Maurya, head of pulmonary department at Fortis Hospital said , “We welcome the government decision making masks mandatory. We have observed a surge in covid cases but hospitalization is very less." 

Delhi reported 1,009 covid cases and one death in the last 24 hours. Positivity rate touched 5.70%, as per Delhi government health bulletin on Wednesday evening.  The total number of active cases in Delhi has crossed 2,000.

Meanwhile, India has detected more than 2,000 new covid cases with a jump of 1,000 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing total active caseload to 12,000, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday. The NCDC is monitoring covid cases and studying the change in the virus to check whether the surge is due to a new variant or due to the lack of covid-appropriate behaviour. Mint reported on Wednesday that the Delhi government may make wearing face masks mandatory. 

On Tuesday, Rajesh Bhushan, Union health secretary advised the Delhi government to continue monitoring spread of infection and undertake required steps for prompt and effective management of covid-19, as the city is reporting an increase in covid-19 cases.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Priyanka Sharma

Priyanka Shamra is a health and pharma journalist with nearly nine years of field reporting experience. She is a special correspondent with Mint. Her beat includes covering the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals. She also covers the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Biotechnology.
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