Despite the emergence of Omicron, a new variant of COVID-19, the mask compliance in the country remains low, with just 2 per cent of citizens in a survey rating mask compliance as high in their city or area or district.
According to the latest survey conducted by digital community based platform LocalCircles, one in three Indians is not even carrying a mask while stepping out of the house.
As part of the survey, citizens were asked the current status in regard to mask compliance in their city/ district/ area. "In response, 34 per cent said most people don't even have a mask with them now and 23 per cent said most have a mask with them but don't wear it at all. There were also 38 per cent of citizens who said that most have a mask but don't wear it properly. Only 5 per cent said most have a mask and wear it properly. On an aggregate basis, 1 in 3 Indians is not even carrying a mask when they step out of their house," Local Circles said in a release.
The platform has been conducting surveys from time to time to find about mask compliance in the country. In a survey conducted by it in April 2021, 29 per cent citizens rated mask compliance in their city/ district/ area as high. This number dropped to 12 per cent in September, and to 2 per cent in November amid the festive season.
In the latest survey, 8 per cent of citizens said that there is no compliance at all with mask wearing norms. "Breaking down the poll, 19 per cent said that 0-30 per cent people are compliant, 32 per cent said 30-60 per cent people are compliant and 39 per cent said 60-90 per cent people are compliant. Only 2 per cent citizens said people in their area/ city/ district are complying well," the release said.
The survey also found that two in three Indians are wearing cloth masks that provide limited protection from COVID-19.
The survey received more than 25,000 responses from citizens residing in 364 districts of India. While 69 per cent of respondents were men, 31 per cent respondents were women. 41 per cent respondents were from tier 1, 30 per cent from tier 2 and 29 per cent respondents from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
"The need of the hour is to educate the public on the effectiveness of masks as 2 in 3 Indians are still wearing cloth masks that provide limited protection from COVID. What this means is that if Omicron starts spreading in India, the population is highly vulnerable because of the poor mask discipline and whatever time people are wearing masks, the majority of them wear one that doesn't provide adequate protection," it said.
LocalCircles said it is critical that the central government, state governments and district administrations introduce all possible mechanisms to create awareness about mask compliance in light of the Omicron variant and enforce necessary penalties to drive this compliance.
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