The government on Friday, December 10, warned about the declining compliance to mask usage in the country amid concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, and urged people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour and get vaccinated to prevent a surge in cases. Referring to an assessment by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul at a press conference said the usage of masks in the country has declined to pre-second wave levels and "in a way we have again entered a danger zone".
The use of masks is declining, he pointed out, and said "from the point of view of protection capability, we are now operating at a low level...at a risky and unacceptable level". "We have to remember that both vaccines and masks are important," Paul emphasised. He said people must learn from the global situation.
Referring to a recent analysis by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal, said the WHO has highlighted that Public Health and Social Measures (PHSM) compliance is declining with increase in vaccination rate."We need to diligently adhere to these public health measures in order to safeguard ourselves and those around us against COVID-19, the WHO has said," he said.
He said citizens must strictly follow COVID-appropriate behaviour to prevent a surge in cases as being seen in European countries.
A total of 32 cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus have been detected in India so far. Speaking about the 25 cases detected as of Friday afternoon, the Health Ministry said mild symptoms have been noted in all the cases.
Several review meetings have been conducted with state and airport health officials to ensure increased surveillance, effective screening and follow up in the community for international travellers, increasing pace of vaccination and monitoring the upgrading of health infrastructure for COVID-19 across the country, Agarwal said.
Watch: Omicron: India needs new testing strategy, lockdowns make no sense: Dr Gagandeep Kang