Only 11 percent of citizens say there is effective social distancing compliance in their area, while only 29 percent say mask compliance is effective, as per a survey by Local Circles. The survey said that the mask-wearing and social distancing compliance is really low in smaller towns and rural areas and enforcement is near zero. The first wave was predominantly urban and semi-urban-centric and had not impacted rural India except in cases where migrants were going back to their hometown.
A significant risk with the current wave is it reaching smaller towns and rural areas most of which do not have the required health infrastructure to deal with the spike in cases which will mean more suffering and more pressure on the urban health centers because individuals who can afford will reach to their nearest urban health centers and cities who in turn will have to treat their own population but those from out of the district.
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As indicated by the findings of the survey, only 29 percent and 11 percent of citizens believe that mask-wearing and social distancing compliance are good in their area, district, or city. Even at vaccination centers, though 74 percent of citizens say mask compliance is good, and 44 percent of citizens say social distancing compliance is good. As the vaccination drive is expanding, compliance to these norms is expected to worsen. With many senior citizens approaching vaccination centers for their second dose in the next 2-4 weeks, it is critical that mask and social distancing norms are enforced by those vaccinating and administering the drive or it will not happen.
The last thing we as a nation want is the vaccination centers becoming super spreaders. The number of positive cases amid the 2nd wave of Covid-19 has been constantly rising in India, crossing the 1,00,000, with Maharashtra taking the lead, followed by Karnataka, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh amongst other states. The Health Secretary has been reiterating that urgent action must be taken while Niti Aayog member V.K. Paul has described the ongoing situation as going from “bad to worse” as daily cases in the month of March alone reached nearly 9-fold, with a 3-fold rise in daily deaths.
The following suit amid concerns, the Government of Maharashtra has announced night curfew, from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., along with weekend lockdown starting Friday from 8 p.m. to Monday 7 a.m. It has announced a complete shutdown of the gymnasium and indoor sports, religious places, theatre, amusement parks, salons, beauty parlors, as well as political rallies. It has also announced that private offices will have to work from home, while government offices, except health, disaster, and medical education departments, will work to 50 percent capacity.
Citizens on the LocalCircles platform have been regularly reporting about people in their area, district, or city becoming complacent towards following Covid protocols, especially towards social distancing and mask-wearing, and even if people had a mask with them, it rarely covered their mouth and the nose. Also, many reports were received about how rallies and public meetings are being held in poll-bound states, including private and public events, markets that rarely have any social distancing or mask-wearing compliance.
As the daily caseload crossed more than 1 lakh vis-a-vis rising in new variants of SARS-COV-2 amid vaccination to more than 7.5 crore citizens, LocalCircles has conducted another survey to understand how people are following social distancing and mask-wearing norms as cases. Only 11 percent of citizens feel that there is good compliance with social distancing norms and wearing masks in their area, district, or city.
In the question that tried to understand citizens’ experience and observation of people in their area, district, or city are complying with wearing a mask and following social distancing norms, 23 percent said “No compliance at all for both social distancing and wearing a mask”, 18 percent said “No compliance to social distancing but wearing a mask”, 22 percent said “No compliance to social distancing and limited compliance to wearing a mask”, and 1 percent said “No compliance to wearing a mask and limited compliance to social distancing”. There was only 23 percent of citizens who said “limited compliance to both wearing a mask and social distancing”, and just 11 percent saying “good compliance to both social distancing and wearing a mask”, while 2 percent couldn’t say.
Only 29 percent of citizens say mask compliance is good in their area, district, or city. Wearing a mask is one of the most important Covid-19 precaution measures. Wearing a mask alone reduces the chances of getting infected drastically as it stops the virus from entering both the mouth and the nose. Citizens from around the world are upgrading their masks and moving to KN95 or N95 masks, and in some cases, people are wearing double basic masks for protection.
Per September 2020 survey by LocalCircles, 67 percent of citizens rated compliance level as good in their area, which then reduced drastically to 30 percent in February 2021 survey. Various reasons cited by citizens at the time for not wearing masks included discomfort, no or poor enforcement by most local authorities, and declining caseloads in their area.
Even though the caseloads are now steadily rising, only 29 percent of citizens in the current survey have rated that mask compliance by people is ‘good’ in their area. When the data was analyzed based on locations, citizens who said compliance was ‘limited’ in location was 45 percent, while those who rated it as ‘no compliance’ was 24 percent. This indicates that the mask compliance has been going down from metros to urban to semi-urban and rural India.
74 percent of citizens feel that there is effective compliance to wearing masks at the vaccination center/location; 44 percent say compliance to social distancing norms is effective. 44 percent of citizens feel that there is effective compliance to wearing masks when traveling by flights or at airports, trains or at railway stations, bus or at bus stands. Only 15 percent said compliance to social distancing norms is effective.
With the school session getting over in many parts, people have been traveling in March and have made their summer travel plans as well. To understand what people experienced when they traveled in the last 30 days, the Local Circles survey tried to understand from citizens about the mask and social distancing compliance when traveling in flights, trains, buses as well as at airports, train stations, and bus stands.
In response, 25 percent said, “no compliance at all for both social distancing and wearing a mask”, 29 percent said “no compliance to social distancing but wearing a mask”, and 15 percent said “no compliance to social distancing and limited compliance to wearing a mask”.
Breaking down the poll, 14 percent said “limited compliance to both wearing mask and social distancing”, while 15 percent said “good compliance to both social distancing and wearing a mask”, and 2 percent couldn’t say. The findings of the poll indicated that 44 percent of citizens feel that there is effective compliance to wearing masks when traveling at airports, railway stations, or bus stands. Only 15 percent said compliance to social distancing norms is effective. (IANS/SP)