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Eye on China Covid spike, 57% Indians demand mask mandate on flights, at airports

Local Circles survey based on responses from over 20,000 participants in 312 districts also found 65% want Covid testing for all international passengers in airports.

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New Delhi: Fifty-seven per cent Indians want facial masks to continue being mandatory on flights and at airports, in the wake of a reported upsurge in Covid cases in countries like China, Japan, Brazil and the United States, found a new survey conducted by community social media platform LocalCircles.

The survey, results of which were released Saturday, is based on responses from over 20,000 participants in 312 districts. While 67 per cent of respondents were men and 33 per cent were women.

According to the survey, 65 per cent of respondents said they want Covid testing for all international passengers in airports.

The Indian government Saturday mandated Covid-19 negative reports from passengers arriving in the country from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand. “Air Suvidha portal to be implemented for passengers arriving from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand and RT-PCR to be made mandatory for them. After arriving in India, if they test positive, they’ll be quarantined,” said Union Health Minister, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya said.

China is battling a fresh Covid-19 infection wave, mainly driven by the Omicron BF.7 variant. However, the country has been relaxing its pandemic induced restrictions. According to leaked documents on social media, cited by radio Free Asia, nearly 250 million people have been infected in the first 20 days since the country diluted its “zero Covid policy” this month.

“Unlike in the first wave in late 2019 and early 2020, when the surge was limited to a few parts of China, this time the surge appears to be nationwide. Some global epidemiologists are estimating that more than 60% of China and 10% of the world’s population are likely to be infected over the next 90 days with deaths likely in the millions,” said LocalCircles in a statement.

The survey report added: “China has reported no Covid deaths in Beijing since the authorities announced four deaths between November 19 and 23. Ground reports from China however show an extremely difficult situation with no hospital beds available, long waits at crematoriums and a Bloomberg report estimates 5,000 daily deaths in the country.”

Also read: Vaccination gaps, drop in mask use, no social distancing: Why India is seeing measles outbreaks

Return of social distancing?

According to the survey, seven in 10 Indians are in favour of restricting air travel from China and Hong Kong. They also want all travellers who had been in China in the past two weeks to be tested for the virus and to be kept in quarantine if found to be Covid positive.

Eighty-seven per cent of respondents claimed there have been little or no mask compliance by passengers on flights and at airports in the past 90 days.

The survey showed that while 37 per cent want social distancing norms to be enforced in airports, 27 per cent want it to be enforced in flights as well. On the other hand 16 per cent of the respondents aren’t in favour of reinforcing social distancing in airports and flights.

The civil aviation ministry had last month updated its Covid regulations, under which face masks were no longer mandatory on flights.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Indian students, expats cautious amid China’s widespread protests against strict Covid policy


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