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Biplab Deb suggests a traditional alternative to masks: the ‘jal gamcha’

Tripura CM Biplab Deb suggests keeping the humble ‘jal gamcha’ handy to use as an alternative mask during the COVID-19 pandemic

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
Updated: March 27, 2020 9:07:11 pm
No unemployment, food crisis in Tripura: Bilab Deb Biplab Deb suggested using the gamcha as an alternative to masks during COVID-19 pandemic (File)

As stores run out of face-masks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb suggested a traditional alternative: the ‘gamcha’, or the handwoven customary towel used by Indians.

In a video message circulated by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), Deb said: “We all have ‘jal gamcha’ at our homes. Please keep it on your neck and wrap your face with it. It should not be a problem. This will ensure you are safe and it can be done in a second.” In the video, Deb demonstrates it by wrapping the chequered gamcha around his mouth.

“As long as the lockdown continues, don’t lower the gamcha from shoulders,” said Deb, appealing to everyone to follow his advice, and keep these ready-made ‘masks’ handy.

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“Masks are mandatory for medical staff and paramedical employees. But some people in our state are panicking — they think without masks, they are at risk of getting COVID-19. This is not true. Besides, it is not possible to provide masks to all 40 lakh people of Tripura,” Deb said, in his video message.

Deb also appealed to the state to remain indoors, avoid going out unless absolutely necessary, maintain social distancing (at 1.5 meter distance from each other) and adopt precautionary measures.

Recommending ways to pass the 21-day lockdown, the CM recommended a host of activities including writing autobiographies, diaries, or books.

“How will you pass these 21 days? I appeal to you all — from Class 3-4 students to post-graduate and professionals — to recall life’s good moments, or the moments which have taught you something and write a diary, a book or your own life history. You might become a writer in 21 days. Write your own autobiography. 21 day will feel like 21 seconds,” Deb said.

In 2019, Deb authored a book on Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur, the last reigning king of Tripura.

He said sitting alone might get boring but writing a book might end up producing lakhs of potential writers in Tripura after the lockdown ends.

Tripura currently has 948 persons under home quarantine but no one has tested positive for the novel coronavirus so far.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: Are smokers at high risk form coronavirus? | Can Vitamin-C prevent or cure coronavirus infection? | What exactly is community spread of coronavirus? | How long can the Covid-19 virus survive on a surface? | Amid the lockdown, what is allowed, what is prohibited?

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