Mask mandate saw drop in Indian cases | Daily News

Mask mandate saw drop in Indian cases

In September, India was reporting almost 100,000 Covid-19 cases a day, with many predicting it would soon pass the U.S. in overall cases. Instead, its infections dropped and are now at one-fourth that level.

India has brought down its virus numbers, despite often being too crowded for social distancing, having too many cases for effective contact tracing and an economy that isn’t well equipped to weather long lockdowns.

One of the main reasons, Indian health officials say, is that the country has managed to encourage and enforce almost universal acceptance of masks without much debate.

From the moment the pandemic landed in this South Asian nation, politicians and health experts have been

“Until you have a vaccine, united about the importance of masks, including Prime Minister Narendra have a social vaccine, and the social vaccine is the mask,” said Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, pointing to his mask and repeating the mantra he uses in speeches addressing the nation.

Indians have embraced masks thanks to a combination of factors, including a healthy fear of the virus among the public, a unified voice from authorities, billions of automated phone messages and hundreds of thousands of masking-violation tickets.

Police Sub-Inspector Brajesh Patel has been giving out tickets to people without masks in New Delhi for months and says it has become more difficult to find violators. On a recent morning, he walked down the middle of a busy street, avoiding oncoming cars like a matador while peering into their windows looking for lawbreakers. A few motorcycle riders were warned about wearing their masks incorrectly, but none got tickets.

“People are more likely to be wearing masks than helmets these days,” he said through two layers of masks. He doubles up with two fresh surgical masks every day.

A drive down a crowded New Delhi road illustrates how unusual even basic compliance can be in this boisterous and diverse democracy. Rule breakers are the norm at most intersections, where you can often see multiple people riding a single motorcycle without helmets, people littering, trucks going the wrong way down the street and cars parked on the sidewalk. Still, almost everyone is wearing masks. (WSJ)