Despite raging second Covid wave, only 50% in India wear masks - and most who do don’t cover nose

·2-min read
<p>A man from a non-governmental organisation, wearing an outfit resembling the coronavirus, urges people to follow safety protocols in Siliguri on 25 April, 2021</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

A man from a non-governmental organisation, wearing an outfit resembling the coronavirus, urges people to follow safety protocols in Siliguri on 25 April, 2021

(AFP via Getty Images)

India’s health ministry has said that about 50 per cent of the population does not wear masks despite most states have clear, blanket mask mandates and even as a second wave of Covid-19 rips through the country.

Of the half of the population who do wear masks, a survey found, only a small minority do so properly. As many as 64 per cent use masks to cover their mouth but not their nose, the ministry said, despite this doing little to protect them from coronavirus.

Around 20 per cent were wearing their masks on their chin, while 2 per cent had them round their necks, according to the survey of 2,000 people across 25 cities. Only 14 per cent of those involved in the survey were properly wearing the mask covering their nose and mouth.

The survey results come as India added another 259,551 cases in the 24 hours ending Friday morning and its death toll rose by 4,209, taking its total tallies of cases and deaths during the pandemic above 26 million and 291,000 respectively.

Experts have said that a laxity in following Covid-appropriate precautions, like wearing masks, was one of the reasons behind the surge in cases in India. Prime minister Narendra Modi and other politicians have also come in for criticism for addressing election rallies packed with people who were not wearing masks.

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The Indian government has stressed on the importance of masks as a preventive measure against Covid-19 from an early stage in the pandemic, becoming one of the first countries in the world to issue a blanket recommendation for everyone to wear masks at all times outside their own homes.

Recently the government has started recommending wearing double masks. In an advisory, the office of the principal scientific adviser said people should wear masks when they are outside their homes and even when they are inside but interacting with outsiders. Police in major cities patrol junctions to fine motorists who fail to wear masks – even when alone in their cars.

A study last month found that wearing two face masks can almost double the filtering efficiency against particles which are the size of the novel coronavirus. The study found that double masking enhanced filtration by eliminating gaps and poor-fitting areas of masks.

The World Health Organisation has also said that masks should be used as part of measures to suppress transmission. A mask alone is insufficient to provide adequate protection, and should be used with other measures like physical distancing, hand hygiene, adequate ventilation in indoor settings among others, it said.

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