This, when several customers were waiting — most of them elderly people. This was the same branch, where at the
peak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the guard would not only sanitise customers’ hands, but deter them from entering unless essential. Staff of the branch not only wore masks, which they still do, but also gloves and counters used to be segregated with ropes. But, the manner in which a group of their colleagues from other branches were conducting themselves on Thursday — without any protest from either the staff or customers — reflected the receding “consciousness” on the deadly infection as Covid cases dip.
What’s being missed in the belief that Covid is waning is that Bhopal not only has the highest number of active cases — at 667 on Friday, over twice that of Indore — but has been topping the daily count in MP almost since the beginning of the year.
Experts say it is imperative to adhere to Covid-19 protocol as nothing is worse than contracting the infection at a time when the pandemic is on the back foot.
State coordinator for coronavirus, Dr Lokendra Dave, said, “It is essential not to lower guards till most of the people get vaccinated. People should continue wearing masks and maintain social distancing as before.”
But, even those who were particular about observing the Covid-19 norms in their offices or shops are finding it difficult to stick to it as their own friends are asking them to stop ‘fussing over Corona’. “I had a sanitiser machine installed in office and put a note at the gate requesting everyone to wear masks, but now when I ask my friends or clients to use the sanitiser machine or not to take off their mask, they just smile and move on. Since the vaccines arrived and corona cases started declining, people now feel all those precautions are not necessary now,” said Gyandev Mishra, a builder.
“Not everyone was wearing masks earlier also, but now many of those who were particular about wearing masks at public places and not getting into crowded places have also stopped the practice. This, despite the fact that the changed caller tune after vaccination clearly says ‘Dawai bhi, kadai bhi’,” said Rajat Agrawal, a shopkeeper.
Meanwhile, police, municipal staff and the administration also seem to have become slack in catching and punishing people not wearing masks.
Collector Avinash Lavania, however, has been particular in cautioning people to continue sticking to Covid-19 protocol even while talking about falling Corona cases and the improving recovery rate. “My appeal to people has been to wear masks in public places, observe social distancing and not crowd. Frequent washing of hands is vital,” he said.