Mask up India: Best alternative to reduce mass transmission

With business shutting and GDP hitting record low in decades, schools and educational institutes, malls, markets, religious institutions all being closed and normal life almost at a halt. This is definitely the worst crisis India has ever faced. Collapsed medical infrastructure has made the situation even worse.

Observing the international trends such as the two waves in Brazil, one mini wave followed by two serious waves in the UK, three waves in the USA etc, the second wave was surely expected in India as well. Nation’s health advisor has also hinted at a third wave in future with so many virus carriers in the country. 

Vaccines are the best defense against this disease but keeping in the mind population of the

Country and recent vaccine shortage it will take almost 3 years to inoculate the entire population of the country. Until then covid appropriate behaviour is the best alternative to reduce the mass transmission. It includes wearing masks, cleanliness and hygiene, frequent hand wash or using alcohol based sanitizer and maintaining social distance. 

Why mask is the key 

An independent small study in Beijing with families has shown that the efficiency of masks in the same household is 79% in preventing the transmission. Another study last year published in the “American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene” found that nations that mandated wearing masks have a lower mortality rate than the ones who did not. Many more such studies have been  published in the last year showing the world the way to reduce transmission. 

Situation in India

Even after the grim situation caused by the pandemic people in India are still blithe in their approach towards the virus. It is often seen people not following covid protocols, especially wearing a mask. It is generally believed by the authorities that Indians can be persuaded to wear a mask only by a lawful measure with hefty fines or punishments for non compliance. But these protocols cannot work until the public adopts them on their own wil when they see it as being in their best interests. 

How public can be persuaded to wear a mask

 A research team of Yale university doing the research in bangladesh has found that mask usage tripled when they were given away free and also some instruction by religious and community leaders. This leads to three times the usage of masks. Keeping volunteers in public 

Places to remind the people to wear a mask and give away masks to them who did not have any, showed an increase in mask usage from 13% to 40%. Another key factor was the quality of the mask. Masks need to be comfortable without compromising their filtering capacities. India has manufactured sufficient masks and has capacity to manufacture the same in future so supplies should not be an issue. Communication through the community leaders and social workers with the association of government can be the right step ahead. Addition to these creative and imaginative campaigning is needed to sensitise the public about the necessity of the mask and the right way to use it. These solutions may sound elementary but if India has to 

Stop the devastating effect of the third wave it is essential that these are considered and implemented effectively.