KOCHI: With just a handful of positive cases reported this week, Kerala has been largely successful in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, the government has, time and again, urged people to follow simple safety steps, one of which is wearing the mask when going out.But some people seem hell-bent on not listening.
Till Thursday, a week since the Kerala police on April 30 made wearing masks mandatory for people stepping out of their homes and workplaces, 677 people were booked within the city limits alone for failing to wear masks. The highest number of cases on a single day – 123 – was registered on May 1, a day after the police’s announcement. On an average, 80 people are booked for the offence daily. Now, the city police have launched a special drive to nab such offenders and make them aware of the importance of wearing masks.
“Around 95 per cent of people are now aware of the safety measures and the importance of masks. A few are still not bothered about it. Mostly, wayside vendors were found reluctant to wear the mask. Some were hesitant as masks were not part of their life till now. Strict enforcement activities and awareness campaigns to regularise the use of masks are on,” said Ernakulam ACP K Laljy said.
The police on Friday launched a special drive to spread awareness among people on the importance of masks. The drive was conducted in the city’s busy areas like Marine Drive where several vendors set up shops daily. Masks were given to people who complained about not having enough money to buy one.
People failing to wear masks are charged with a petty case under IPC Section 290, which attracts a fine of I200 for the first offence and I5,000 for repeat offence. Besides, surgical or N95 masks, people can use cloth, towel and handkerchiefs to cover their nose and mouth.
Other violations on the decline
The number of cases registered in connection with the violation of other lockdown norms has witnessed a decline. On Thursday, only 16 such cases were registered and 37 people were arrested. On Wednesday, there were 26 cases and 45 arrests. In comparison, nearly 100 cases were registered in the city daily on an average in the first two phases of the lockdown.