Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma's shocking remarks about wearing face masks have baffled netizens and people of the nation. In an interview, the minister can be heard saying that there's no need to wear face masks for protection against COVID-19. When reminded about the Center's strict instructions to follow COVID appropriate behaviour, the minster appeared dismissive.

"The Centre might give its directives but in the context of Assam, as on present date, Covid is almost non-existent. So, why this need to create panic among people? When the need to wear masks will arise, I will tell people to do so. At present, we have to focus on reviving the economy. If people wear masks how will beauty parlours run? They too need to sustain," Biswa Sarma was quoted as saying.

Assam health min downplays COVID risk; says no need to wear face mask

Biswa Sarma's remarks come at a time when India is witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases. On Saturday, 90,000 new cases were reported in the country, which marks the highest single-day tally in nearly six months. In Assam, however, hasn't witnessed a similar trend. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Assam had 1,945 active COVID-19 cases with 36 of them detected on April 3.

Biswa hits back at critics

But the risk of COVID-19 infection is not to be dismissed, even if the state tally is low. The minister faced a lot of criticism over his remarks about not needing to wear face mask.

No COVID in Assam, no need to wear mask; health min's shocking remarks stir controversy

The minister hit back at critics and even said that Bihu will be celebrated in a grand fashion like before.

"Those who are making fun on my statement on masks must come to Assam and see how we have contained COVID-19, compared to states like Delhi, Kerala and Maharashtra... along with impressive recovery of economy," he tweeted.