Many in Kerala still lax about COVID-19 protocols

3,36,560 booked for not wearing masks since May 8; experts say only responsible behavior can help contain the pandemic

A whopping 3,36,560 persons have been booked by the police in Kerala for not wearing face masks since the Statewide lockdown began on May 8 to contain the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This has raised questions on the reckless behavior by at least a section of the public in the face of a persistent danger that has claimed more lives and caused serious infections in the State in its second wave.

R. Suresh Kumar, senior consultant in neurology and behavioral sciences, attributed it partly to people not being inculcated with civic sense and ethical behavior during their formative years. “We as a society are inherently insensitive to the wellbeing of others. Democratic countries are fiercely free-spirited and tend to violate restrictions even in the face of an unprecedented crisis like the pandemic. When the curbs are eased, they overcompensate for the freedom lost as was witnessed in the slackening of basic protocol like wearing face masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene post the first lockdown,” he said.

Spread word

Dr. Kumar emphasized the need for keeping up the intensity of messaging on the need for adhering to the basic protocol, which, he felt, had dropped from the initial days of the pandemic. “People should realize that responsible behavior alone can do away with lockdowns affecting their lives and livelihood,” he said.

PT Zacharia, State President of the Indian Medical Association, said that though vaccination was an effective tool to fight the pandemic, it was not a substitute for the basic protocol. “Responsible behavior by the public can only be enforced by the police, which they are doing admirably. Political leaders should also set examples in observing the protocol,” he said.

Effective policing

Additional Director General of Police Vijay Sakhare, who devised the concept of triple lockdown, felt that the general compliance level had been improved owing to effective policing. “Non-compliance is mostly borne out of psychological and physiological reasons. People who otherwise comply with the restrictions lower the guard in the company of their friends or dear ones as if that would not spread infections. Then there are people who feel suffocated on wearing masks,” he said.

Mr. Sakhare said that violations of the basic protocol were fined for a deterrent effect while many were let off with a warning.

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