Home / News / India /  Is the decision to lift mask rules in Delhi too early? What experts say

Opinions on Delhi's decision to lift the mask mandate after 30 September were divided; some believed the government should have waited another two months for the holiday season to pass, while others believed people should be allowed to self-regulate.

For the uninitiated, Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) decided to lift the compulsory rule of wearing of masks from 30 September. However, it stressed the importance of maintaining vigilance against Covid in light of the upcoming festivals.

Following the meeting held on 22 September, DDMA issued a notice revoking the 500 fine on not wearing masks is expected to be issued by the health department soon.

What the experts said:

Currently, there are no new patients having severe Covid getting admitted but Dr Vikas Maurya, director and HOD of Pulmonology at Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh, he pointed out that since respiratory infections and viral illnesses worsen in such weather, it remains to be seen whether this trend persists in the winter.

"It is expected that there will be an increase in all respiratory viral infections including Covid, flu, swine flu and others during winters," he said.

He suggested that during this festive season, those who are at high risk, such as the elderly and those with comorbidities, take precautions and use masks.

He explained, "It is because apart from Covid, other respiratory viruses like flu, swine flu are also affecting people and can cause severe infections requiring admissions."

Dr Sumit Ray, head of the critical care department at Holy Family Hospital, said the hospital has not had a single Covid-related death in the past four months.

He said, "We have had hospitalisations mainly because of stress and anxiety and some have required oxygen but no one has required prolonged ventilatory support. In fact, we have had more severe cases of swine flu as compared to COVID-19 with quite a few requiring ventilator."

He further added that people have received two doses of the vaccine, and some have also taken precautionary doses. They are therefore well protected from the infection. He stated, as time passes, we must keep an eye on things. "We are having a lot of viral infections like H1N1, influenza and some undiagnosed respiratory illnesses. If other viral infections are happening, it means that mask mandate is anyways not being adhered to," Ray stressed.

It was in the beginning of April that the government had lifted the mask mandate but within three weeks, had to reimpose it, in view of the rising positivity rate of the infection.

Meanwhile, Dr Jugal Kishore, head of Community Medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, said the authorities could have waited till New Year to lift the mask mandate.

He said, “We could have delayed this provision for another two months because of the festive season. We already know that people are not wearing masks but still with some sort of sanctions, there was some sort of fear among people."

He said that Covid transmission is still there with people travelling across borders."So, the respiratory etiquettes must continue because influenza kills elderly people across the world," he added.

(With inputs from PTI)

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