Harsh Vardhan addresses first meeting of WHO high-level coalition on health, energy

NEW DELHI: While the coronavirus mutated and evolved, citizens let their guard down and all this led to a spike in cases, snowballing into the second wave, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday.

Vardhan made these remarks after distributing masks among frontline workers at the Union Health Ministry.

He stated that although this gesture was symbolic, people from various industries and corporate houses, and political leaders holding office could start a virtuous chain by emulating the exercise, eventually amplifying the Jan Andolan to protect everyone from COVID-19 through Covid appropriate behaviour, a Health Ministry statement said.

The aim of the exercise in the Health Ministry is to distribute masks to all employees, starting with the frontline workers and eventually moving to other staff.

“The government worked round the clock to stop COVID-19 last year. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji, we were immensely successful in decreasing the active caseload to a minimum.

“However, with the arrival of vaccines early this year and things returning to normal, people gradually invited laxity in their adherence to the simple code of Covid appropriate behaviour. While the virus mutated and evolved, we let our guard down. All this compounded in the spike in cases, snowballing into the second wave,” Vardhan was quoted as saying in the statement.

Explaining the importance of the event, he said, “With many corners of India gradually moving towards unlock from the second wave, we cannot afford laxity and any further increase in cases again.”

He drove home the point that masks are the simplest, most potent and the most powerful weapon against all variants of the coronavirus.

Appealing to everyone who is an employer in some capacity, including corporate and industry leaders, social organisations, his colleagues in other ministries and other political leaders in office, he said, “We must all ensure that all our employees are safe from Covid.”

“We should ensure that all of them have adequate masks, that masks are properly worn and inform them, if felt necessary, about the importance of Covid appropriate behaviour. We should encourage them to get vaccinated as well,” he said.

The minister highlighted that Government of India had already started the largest vaccination drive in the world and is now completely geared up to universalise the drive throwing it open free-of-cost to every adult citizen above 18 years of age in the country, the statement said.

He also appealed to every Indian who is yet to be vaccinated to get themselves vaccinated and join the Jan Andolan against COVID-19, the statement added.