Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb today offered an alternative to masks amid reports of a shortage in his state of N95 masks recommended for protection against coronavirus. In a video on Twitter, Biplab Deb demonstrated how the traditional towel - known as gamchha - can be used instead.
Addressing the people of Tripura, Mr Deb urged them to "always keep a Jal Gamchha (towel)" handy for use as a mask.
It's my appeal to every citizen of our State to always keep a Jal Gamcha and use it as a precaution alternative to mask in addition to maintaining social distance against spreading COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/ef2n912Cnq— Biplab Kumar Deb (@BjpBiplab) March 27, 2020
Mr Deb is seen wrapping a towel around his mouth to show how to do it.
Sanitising masks coming in from Kolkata and Guwahati takes time, he explained, but it only takes seconds to turn the gamchha around one's neck into a mask. Besides, everyone has one, he added.
"Till the time there is lockdown in the country, don't put the gamchha down. This way every household in Tripura will have a ready-made mask available to them," the Chief Minister says in the video.
India has reported over 700 coronavirus cases so far with 17 deaths.