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Are Indians social distancing, following mask protocol as cases surge? This survey finds out

Survey by Local Circles across 319 districts asks residents if Covid protocol such as social distancing and mask wearing are being followed. Only 11% respond in the affirmative. 

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New Delhi: While India’s daily coronavirus cases have seen a meteoric rise and breached the 1 lakh mark in the past few days, Indians are not following Covid-19 preventive measures, a new survey has found.

The survey, conducted by community social media platform Local Circles, received 33,000 responses from residents across 319 districts of India. Of these, only 11 per cent respondents felt there was effective adherence to both social distancing and mask wearing in their area, district or city while 29 per cent said mask compliance was ‘good’.

This is a sharp fall from last September, when in earlier Local Circles survey found that 67 per cent respondents reported good mask compliance in their area.

India currently has 7,88,223 active cases of the 1,26,86,049 reported since the beginning of the pandemic. It registered a single-day spike of 96,982 cases as of Tuesday morning, according to the health ministry.

Lockdown fatigue

Sixty three per cent respondents in the survey said there was absolutely no compliance to social distancing in their area while 24 per cent said there was only limited compliance.

According to the survey, people have been moving around freely, meeting different social groups and attending gatherings, going to malls and markets. This indicates that a pandemic fatigue has set in after after a year of restrictions on movement, social distancing and strict mask wearing norms.

Also read: The Peltzman Effect and the lessons this theory on road accidents has for Covid behaviour

Vaccination centres

The survey also found low compliance of protocols at Covid vaccination centres — only 44 per cent respondents said there was good compliance to both social distancing and mask wearing, while 6 per cent said there was no compliance at all. Seven per cent said there was no adherence to mask wearing and 47 per cent said there was no compliance to social distancing.

The responses suggest that vaccination centres are unable to manage the number of people coming in for their shot, stated the survey. “As the vaccination drive is expanding, the 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 survey said.

Compliance while travelling

Respondents reported low compliance to Covid protocol even while travelling over the past month.

Twenty five per cent of respondents — who travelled by flights, bus or trains in the past month — observed that nobody had followed Covid protocols.

“The findings suggest that mask-wearing and social distancing norms are rarely followed while traveling. This is evident as only 15% of citizens rated social distancing compliance as good, while 44% citizens rated mask compliance as good while traveling at airports, railway stations, or bus stands,” the survey said.

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)

Also read: ‘Grim, alarming, scary’, says govt as India’s Covid cases jump 12% in 24 hours, panic sets in

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