Amid rising COVID-19 cases and the looming Omicron threat, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday reprimanded members in the Assembly for not wearing masks.
Intervening during the proceedings, Pawar said except a few members, the rest are not wearing masks in the House which he claimed was a matter of serious concern. He also urged the Chair to remove members, who were not wearing masks, out of the house. Said Pawar, ''The menace needs to be taken seriously and we don't want a lockdown again.’’
The Deputy CM pointed out that the Prime Minister is holding meetings in this regard. ''There is talk of imposition of a night curfew in some states. The virus spread is quite serious. The number of cases abroad is doubling within one and a half days. The World Health Organization has estimated that five lakh people may die abroad,’’ he noted.
"However, barring a few, many (legislators) do not wear a mask. Throw me out, if I do not wear one. The entire state can see what is happening; at least, after having spoken in the House, one should wear the mask," Pawar said.
'‘If a few members feel uncomfortable in a mask while speaking, they can remove it and don it again after the speech is over,’’ he said. Pawar himself is fastidious about wearing a mask, even while speaking and in his public appearances.
Immediately after Pawar’s mild rap, other members took the cue and put on the masks. Shiv Sena legislator Bhaskar Jadhav admitted that members need to regularly use masks as COVID-19 crisis is still to blow over. '‘People across the state are watching us and if we do not wear masks what message are we sending?’’ he asked.
BJP legislator Kisan Kathore also came out in support of masks. Congress legislator Amin Patel said the virus spread can be curbed by wearing one and taking recourse to social distancing. ‘’The pandemic is not yet over and cases are on the rise across the globe. Therefore, it is imperative to keep ourselves and others also safe,’’ he noted.
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