You can see everywhere in Hyderabad, people are roaming freely without Covid safety mask as a protective and mandatory gear. Turning down the prohibitory orders to wear mask outside home is a big mistake.

Though the Covid-19 pandemic is still around, many people in Hyderabad have taken off their masks, unaware of the lurking danger around them in the form of micro-droplets.

From 100 per cent compliance to the compulsory mask rule during the lockdown and in the subsequent period, one now finds about 50 per cent people in public places without masks.

A drive around the busy thoroughfares in this city reveals a worrying trend. From people walking on roads to motorists and from shopkeepers to the customers at eateries, many are not at all bothered about face covering to protect themselves.

Though not wearing a mask is punishable in Telangana, due to lack of strict implementation of the rule, people are not taking it seriously. Even among those wearing the mask, a large number are not covering their nose and mouth.

Citizens are seen wearing masks at places where it is mandatory for entrance but at other times, they are openly flouting the rule. The compliance is more in places like hospitals, offices, supermarkets, shopping malls and metro stations.

With 800-900 new Covid cases per day in July, the situation in Hyderabad was a matter of concern. The numbers have now come down by 50 per cent and people have apparently became complacent after the number of cases dropped over the last one month.

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Health authorities have claimed that the situation in the state capital is now under control. They, however, cautioned people against complacency or negligence.

Health experts have also been cautioning people against negligence, saying unless a vaccine is found, they will have to continue following the precautions like wearing masks, maintaining social distance and washing hands frequently. They describe masks as the first line of defence against the virus.

It was in April that the Telangana government made wearing masks compulsory for people when they are out of their house. A month later, the government announced that a Rs 1,000 fine will be imposed on those not complying with the rule.

Negligence, lack of awareness and “nothing will happen to me” attitude are the reasons for people not wearing masks. This is despite the warning by health authorities that the number of cases among 20-40 age group is increasing.

“A common sentiment is if I am not personally at high risk for Covid-19, why should I wear a mask? It is important to understand that the virus that causes Covid-19 can be spread even before symptoms appear, by such things as coughing, sneezing, or even speaking at close range,” said Dr Rahul Agarwal, Senior Consultant – Internal Medicine, Medicover Hospitals, Hyderabad.

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“People should often wear masks to protect themselves and also to protect others from respiratory droplets. This approach is important because of possible asymptomatic transmissions of Covid-19. Social distancing and frequent hand-washing or use of hand sanitiser, will be important in limiting the spread of Covid-19 as we return to our usual activities,” he said.

According to Dr E. Bhavani, Consultant Microbiologist, Continental Hospitals, masks have become mandatory in today’s life as Covid-19 spreads through micro droplets released while talking and sneezing. “As we cannot maintain social distance of six feet at all times, the only way we can stop Covid-19 spread is through wearing masks,” she said

According to the commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine, masks reduce the viral load that a person is exposed to, thereby conferring a degree of immunity. Wearing a mask is like having a vaccine.

One also notices many people not wearing the masks properly. They are seen wearing it on their chin or neck and adjust it to cover nose and mouth only if they have to visit places where wearing a mask is mandatory.

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People are also in a dilemma as to which mask they should wear. According to Dr Agarwal, cloth face coverings have been recommended due to their low cost and ready availability. “Fabric masks should consist of at least three layers of different material in order to be effective. By using cloth face coverings, we can save surgical masks and N-95 masks for healthcare workers who may be involved in direct care of patients with Covid-19,” he said.

Dr Bhavani pointed out that wearing masks with two or more layers has been recommended. “Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin, strongly fit it at the side of your face. Masks should be worn by people two years and older.”

“Masks should not be worn by children younger than two years, people who have trouble breathing or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance. Do not wear masks intended for healthcare workers, for example N95 masks. Do not wear a fabric that makes it difficult to breath, for example vinyl. Do not wear a mask with an exhalation valve or vent which allows virus particles to escape. Masks can be included in regular laundry. Always discard masks when it becomes wet in a closed dustbin,” she added. #KhabarLive #hydnews