Kerala reinforces mask mandate in view of rising COVID-19 cases

People without masks at Marine Drive. File

People without masks at Marine Drive. File | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

The steady rise in COVID-19 cases over the past one month and the significant number of COVID-related deaths has had Kerala reinforcing the mask mandate yet again in the State.

In a circular issued to all District Police Chiefs dated June 22, the Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) has said that the GO of April 27, issued by the Chief Secretary making masks mandatory in public places, should be compulsorily implemented and that the violation of the mandate will be punishable under the Disaster Management Act and other relevant laws in the State. 

Kerala’s COVID-19 case graph had been at a consistent low of around 300 new cases daily for over a week and the active cases had fallen below the 3,000 mark, when on April 7, the government issued orders rescinding all COVID-related restrictions on civil life. 

A GO was issued on April 27, making masks mandatory in public places, workplaces and during transport again, when the emergence of the sub-variants of Omicron led to an uptick in cases all across the country.

COVID-19 cases have risen steadily in the State since the last week of May. If active cases were between 3,000-4,000 in the last week of May, the number of active cases in the State as on June 27 is 27,218. COVID-related mortality too has been showing a significant rise, with over 151 deaths reported in the month of June alone (till June 27).

Even when all COVID-related restrictions on civil life were rescinded, all COVID protocols, including masks, use of sanitisers, and physical distancing, were never withdrawn in the State. However, compliance has been much more relaxed, especially since the authorities stopped the checking and imposing of fines.

The current surge in cases is directly linked to the large-scale interaction of people and the resumption of indoor gatherings and the fact that people have a much more relaxed attitude about using a mask or maintaining a physical distance. Pandemic fatigue and the fact that vaccinations have given a false sense of security to people cannot be discounted.

However, public health experts state that vaccines do not prevent infections and will only help in reducing the severity of infections. The narrative that Omicron produces only a mild infection seems to have been taken to heart by people. However, recent studies show that reinfections are not always mild and that the long term impact of repeated infections is yet to be studied, they said.

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Printable version | Jul 26, 2022 5:58:37 pm |