Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Saturday said it is "impossible to wipe off" COVID-19 transmission through a lockdown as the virus has "spread through the community" and people should treat wearing a face mask as a vaccine till the real medication is made available. His remarks comes amid a massive spike in fresh cases with a record 5,891 incidences reported on Friday, the third consecutive day when over 5,000 cases have been registered in a day.
Interacting with reporters, the minister said that the lockdown was imposed in the beginning as "it was a new virus then" and its behaviour was totally unpredictable. "There have been a lot of learnings from the lockdown, and a lot was also said that after the 21-day lockdown the virus spread will stop or with temperature going to 40 degrees Celsius, it will stop. Did it stop? So, the learning from that exercise has been that it is impossible to wipe off COVID-19 transmission through a lockdown as the virus has spread through the community," he said when asked if lockdown-like restrictions could be imposed if spike in cases continue.
The other learning from the lockdown has been that the use of mask is an effective way to reduce the spread of the infection, he said. "So, people should treat wearing a mask as a vaccine till we get the real vaccine, which is expected in a few months," Jain said.
The Centre late March had announced a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. From June 8, the central government brought in gradual 'Unlock', under which restrictions have been eased accordingly. The Delhi health minister flagged that a large number of people in the city had become carefree and were not wearing masks in public places, and warned that 'challans' (fines) are being issued and stricter action will be taken against those not wearing masks.
In an interview to PTI early September, Jain had ruled out the possibility of another lockdown in Delhi, saying an economy "cannot be kept shut for eternity" as livelihood of a large number of people is dependent on it.
He has also asserted that "extreme caution and not panic" should be the response of the city and people should exhibit greater alertness and responsibility in public places to deal with this health crisis.