‘Covid fatigue’ caused recent spike: Experts

They say after sticking to pandemic guidelines for more than a year, city residents are lowering their guard

Published: 25th March 2021 05:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th March 2021 05:50 AM   |  A+A-

Health workers advising people before taking swab tests in Chennai | DEBADATTA MALLICK

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Just about a year back, the entire globe was going gaga about cleanliness and the need to maintain hygiene. Frequent rubbing of sanitisers on palms, obsessive cleaning of freshly bought vegetables and fruits, and a newly imbibed civic sense has all vanished now. With the added fervour of Assembly elections in the State, one can hardly spot anyone properly wearing a face mask in public spaces.

So, it should not be much of a wonder to discover that the onset of this attitude, called as “Covid fatigue”, is the main reason behind the recent spike in fresh cases. At least that was the conclusion of an expert medical committee meeting held on Tuesday. Experts and corporation staff, who have been on the field since the beginning of the pandemic, agree. After over a year of rigorously sticking to Covid etiquettes, city residents may now have dropped guard, they said.

“Earlier, if we spot someone not wearing masks and ask them to wear it, they would immediately do so. Recently, when I said the same to a roadside vendor who was not wearing a mask when she asked me: Why don’t you try wearing a mask and sitting here under the sun all day, everyday?” said a corporation sanitary inspector. Families that religiously disinfected food and delivery packages besides washing their hands several times a day have now taken up a more relaxed approach. Public gatherings and celebrations often throw Covid protocols to the wind.

“Earlier, even if we just stayed home, we would ensure that hands are thoroughly washed from time to time. Now, we just try to wash hands after returning home from work, but not so much after getting deliveries or touching surfaces like the gate and staircase railing,” said Mohammed Tariq, a city-based businessman. Dr P Ganeshkumar, Assistant Director & Scientist at ICMR National Institute of Epidemiology, said: “It was due to Covid preventive measures in the first half of 2020 that the public was able to reap its dividends in the later part of the year (with a controlled situation).

Now, there is certain ignorance among people which leads to risky behaviour, like not wearing a mask and not getting tested when they have symptoms. “There also seems to be some resistance faced by the frontline workforce from the public on contact tracing. This, along with avoiding testing and getting vaccinated may have contributed to the recent spike,” Ganeshkumar added.

As a result of having followed hygienic practices to avoid Covid-19, experts opined that there have been several collateral benefits as well. “There has been a lower incidence of tuberculosis, pneumonia, common cold and the Madras eye (Conjunctivitis) in the previous year,” said public health expert Dr K Kolandaisamy. “These practices should be kept up not only now, but also when there are no cases of Covid at all; they should turn into daily habits,” he added.


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