Union health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday wrote to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot asking them to strictly follow Covid appropriate behaviour during the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra or the yatra could be cancelled amid concerns over rising Covid cases.
The union minister also said the use of masks and sanitiser be strictly implemented; and only those persons who are fully vaccinated should be allowed to participate in the yatra.
“I want to bring your attention to two points: 1) in Bharat Jodo Yatra in Rajasthan, Covid guidelines must be strictly followed. Mask and sanitiser should be used and only those who are vaccinated against covid should participate. Before and after taking part in the yatra, participants must be isolated”, the letter stated.
He also requested the participants of the yatra be isolated before and after taking part to minimise the risk of spreading the viral disease.
Mandaviya said he was writing the letter after some members of Parliament (MPs) wrote to him and raised concerns regarding the yatra and possible spread of Covid.
“MPs from Rajasthan– PP Chaudhry, Nihal Chand and Devji Patel– expressed concerns about spread of Covid disease because of the rally (the letter has been attached),” read Mandaviya’s letter.
“If it is not feasible to follow the guidelines then, in the view of public health emergency and to avoid the spread of disease, Bharat Jodo Yatra must be cancelled in the larger interest of the country. I hope you will act soon on the points raised by the MPs,” said Mandaviya in the letter.
Union minister Anurag Thakur echoed the health minister’s sentiments that Covid rules have to be followed.
“I want to ask whether the specific family is above all protocols. I can believe that the family gets more importance in the party than its president but they have to follow Covid protocols”, Thakur was quoted by ANI.
Reacting on the same, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury questioned the lack of Covid protocols in rallies during the Gujarat polls.
“I want to ask BJP did PM Modi follow Covid protocols during Gujarat Polls? I think Mansukh Mandaviya is not liking Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra but people are liking it & joining it. Mandaviya has been deputed to divert public’s attention”, Chowdhury told news agency ANI.
This development comes a day after the health ministry directed all states and union territories to increase the whole genome sequencing of positive samples to keep track of emerging variants. “ln view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, the United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through…INSACOG network,” health ministry secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in the letter to all states and UTs.
According to the Centre, around 35 lakh Covid cases continue to be reported every week globally, however, Dr NK Arora, chairman of the Covid-19 working group NTAGI, asserted that there is nothing to panic about as the country’s system is “vigilant”.
Exuding confidence in India’s preparedness to tackle the Covid situation, the expert said the country can take appropriate action in case of the emergence of a new sub-variant.
“It is an important thing that we keep a close vigil on the Chinese situation. But I would say that there is nothing to be panicked about. There is no need for getting too much worried. The system is very vigilant, we need to be very vigilant. As far as genomic surveillance is concerned, this is the most important part we are doing genomic surveillance of individuals with symptoms,” Arora was quoted saying by news agency ANI.