Kohima: Amid an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state, particularly in the state capital Kohima, the district administration along with police personnel and medical officials on Monday undertook a mask checking drive in Kohima.

Headed by Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Bhavani Sri, teams of officials were assigned at eight locations in Kohima. About 293 defaulters were penalised, and a total of Rs 29,100 was collected as fines.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the drive, the ADC said that due to a surge in the number of cases and non-compliance of maintaining SOPs, the mask checking drive was necessitated to sensitise the public about the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As per the state government’s directive, she informed that although defaulters were fined, the main agenda is to create awareness on wearing a mask.

While such awareness campaigns are conducted, she informed that the next step will likely be to conduct random testing, especially among shopkeepers. She added that the state government will also be increasing the COVID-19 testing.

In the past week, Kohima reported one superspreaders event as 132 cases were reported from a training Institute in Kohima. The health department had also warned that this spike sends a clear message that such events can happen anywhere when necessary conditions are met.

Sub Divisional Officer (SDO) civil Kohima Daniel Angami urged the need for citizens to follow all precautionary measures. “Now is not the time to be sensitizing people about the pandemic. Citizens should be aware of how to take care of themselves and wearing masks is one of the least minimum requirement,” he said.

For the COVID-19 task force to take to the streets and urge people to wear a mask, to him, is disappointing. “But with the surge of the second wave and the rise of positive cases in our state as well, we have to go back to people and plead with them to wear a mask,” he added.

With the execution of the drive across eight locations, the officer expressed hope that this will help prevent the spread of the dreaded disease. He added that most people are aware of the need to wear a mask and comply whenever requested and reminded to wear it.

Free masks were also distributed to some defaulters during the drive.

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