Even as states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and Delhi have made the wearing of masks mandatory in public spaces, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Friday said that putting on a surgical mask wasn't a compulsion on part of the people. "If one doesn't have a mask, one can obviously cover the mouth with a handkerchief or a piece of cloth," the minister said.
While Delhi had made wearing of masks mandatory in public spaces on Wednesday, authorities in Uttar Pradesh announced the same set of rules for masks on Friday. In fact, Uttar Pradesh has said that strict action would be taken against those who were found violating the state government's new directive on masks.
Rajasthan, on its part, made the wearing of masks compulsory on Thursday.
Dr Harsh Vardhan also said during his briefing that India was receiving 10 lakh Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits every week.
The PPE includes boots, coverall, N-95 masks, headgear, gloves, and related gear, according to the health ministry.
As of Friday, a total of 6,412 coronavirus infections had been detected in India, resulting in 199 deaths.