Khattar appeals to people to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines in wake of rising cases

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Chandigarh, Nov 22 (PTI) Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday appealed to people to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, in the wake of rising coronavirus cases in the state.

'Cases had started to come down, but we are now seeing a cycle where COVID-19 cases are rising again. Nearly 2,500 to 3,000 cases are being reported daily now, which is a matter of concern,' the chief minister said in a televised address on the COVID-19 situation.

Haryana on Sunday reported a big spike of 2,279 cases, which took the coronavirus tally of the state to 2,17,300.

The state had reported 2,666 coronavirus cases on Saturday, 3,104 cases on Friday, the highest so far this month, 2,212 cases on Thursday and 2,562 cases on Wednesday.

'Now, the issue comes whether we should impose another lockdown, which can be done with just one order. But we have seen earlier that markets and factories were closed and how people faced difficulty. We have seen that phase... if at this stage, we can take full precautions to help check the spread of this infection, we must do that,' Khattar said.

Gurgaon and Faridabad districts, which fall in the National Capital Region, are the worst-hit in Haryana.

Of the fresh cases reported on Sunday, the maximum 649 were from Gurgaon and 598 from Faridabad, according to a state health department bulletin. Gurgaon had reported 939 cases on Saturday and 964 cases on November 8.

'We all will have to take every precaution against COVID-19. No one wants their family members to be admitted to hospitals for days or lose a life because of the infection,' Khattar said.

'Everyone will have to wear a mask and maintain social distancing and follow other guidelines to check the infection's spread,' he said and added that 'if we have a careless attitude at this stage, then we will have to pay a heavy cost'.

Haryana Home and Health Minister Anil Vij in Ambala told reporters that guidelines to prevent the spread of the infection will be strictly implemented throughout the state in view of increase in cases.

'We have only two options at the moment -- one is to impose a lockdown and the second is to have strictness. I have opted for the second option,' he told reporters in Ambala.

During his address, Khattar also said that one crore masks would be distributed to people. 'If possible, people should carry a few masks in their pocket so that they can give it to those not wearing one,' he said.

Khattar also said that some have suggested that like Delhi, Haryana should also increase the fine for not wearing masks from the present Rs 500 to Rs 2,000.

However, the state government feels that people should be urged to adhere to guidelines, the chief minister said.

Khattar said that schools in the state were ordered to remain closed until November 30 after some students and a few teachers in some institutions tested positive for the coronavirus.

'When schools reopen, children coming to schools will again be tested for the virus,' he said.

Khattar said that at the same time, adequate arrangements are in place to treat patients. Sufficient number of beds are also available in the state, he said.

The COVID-19 fatality rate 'at 1.01 per cent (in Haryana) is comparatively better than other states. In Punjab it is 3.2 per cent', he said.

'Our recovery rate is 90 per cent. Tests being conducted per day are 35,000 and if we take Haryana's population into account, so far 12.5 per cent have been tested, which in numbers is 32 lakh,' Khattar said.

Making a reference to a sero-prevalence survey conducted in the state last month, in which it was found that 14.8 per cent people have antibodies against the COVID-19 infection, Khattar said that this means over 35 lakh or one out of every seven people in the state could have contracted the virus and recovered.

The chief minister also said there are five plasma banks in Haryana and 3,729 recovered patients have donated plasma, which has been used in case of 2,522 patients. PTI SUN VSD ANB ANB