2020-10-14 09:23

Amid Covid-19 fatigue, India rolls out new awareness campaign Ake世界播



Health officials taking a swab sample from a woman in Kolkata, on Oct 13, 2020. Ake世界播


NEW DELHI - The Indian government has rolled out a new campaign to remind people not to let their guard down, as experts warn that fatigue over the pandemic, coupled with the coming festive season and winter, could result in a spike in cases of Covid-19. Ake世界播


The new initiative is called a Jan Andolan (People Movement) campaign for Covid-19-appropriate behaviour. It includes putting up posters asking people to wear masks and follow other safety precautions in crowded areas like railway stations and markets, printing Covid-19 safety instructions on utility bills, getting celebrities to tweet safe practices and raising awareness through frontline health workers. Ake世界播


In a reminder to his 41.6 million fans on Twitter, Bollywood actor Salman Khan tweeted "only do three things", urging them to keep a 2mdistance from others, wear a mask and sanitise their hands. Ake世界播


Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, the campaign comes as India counts down to the festive season - including Dussehra on Oct 25 and Deepavali celebrations from Nov 13 to 15 - and records dipping temperatures in the north, both of which threaten the current downward trend in Covid-19 cases. Ake世界播


India, with almost 7.2 million cases of the coronavirus, has the second-highest number of infections after the United States, which has more than eightmillion cases. Ake世界播


India had one of the most stringent lockdowns in the world, shutting down all economic activity when there were a few hundred Covid-19 cases in March. Ake世界播


As restrictions loosened, the number of infections rose till they nearly hit a million new cases a day in mid-September. Ake世界播


Over the past two weeks, however, there has been a downward trend, with 55,342 new cases recorded on Monday (Oct 12). Ake世界播


Still, authorities are gearing up for the festival season, when large gatherings are the norm. Ake世界播


A new study by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) haswarned that the capital city Delhi, for instance, needs to be prepared for 15,000 fresh cases of Covid-19 every day due to respiratory problems triggered by winter pollution, and festive gatherings. Ake世界播


At present, daily rise in cases in the capital is fewer than 2,000, with 1,849 fresh cases on Monday. Ake世界播


In Sadhapur, a village in north-east Delhi, community health worker Vijaya Lakshmi, 42, has been repeatedly telling people to follow safe practices. Ake世界播

在德里东北部的一个村庄Sadhapur,42岁的社区卫生工作者Vijaya Lakshmi一直在反复告诉人们要遵循安全的做法。Ake世界播

"There are some people who understand and we don't need to tell them anything. But then there are otherswe have to tell them one or two times to wear a mask, not to go to a crowded place and to wash hands. People don't use sanitisers, so it is mainly washing with hands," said Ms Lakshmi. Ake世界播


She added that many people repeatedly asked her when the pandemic would end. "I tell them no vaccine is available yet. They are just tired of wearing the mask." Ake世界播


A survey of 18 cities by non-profit organisation EkDesh and research company Crownit in September found that only 44 per cent of Indians were wearing a mask even though awareness levels about masks were at a high of 90 per cent. Fifty per cent did not wear masks because they had breathing trouble, while the rest said they did not wear a mask because they maintained social distancing. Ake世界播


Health experts said that the awareness campaign would need to be tailor-made for different areas from urban to rural. Ake世界播


"The campaign faces the triple challenge of festivals, fatigue and fatalism. Its focus is seemingly on simple and easily understandable messages that will be disseminated through all media platforms, said Professor Rajib Dasgupta, chairperson of the centre for social medicine and community health at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Ake世界播

贾瓦哈拉尔·尼赫鲁大学(Jawaharlal Nehru University)社会医学和社区健康中心主席拉吉布·达斯古普塔(Rajib Dasgupta)教授表示:“这场运动面临着节日、疲劳和宿命论的三重挑战。它的重点似乎是简单易懂的信息,这些信息将通过所有媒体平台传播。”Ake世界播

Without a more targeted approach that caters to different groups, the campaign "will have limited powers in translating to a jan andolan," he said. Ake世界播


There is a need for "substantial investment in social science research on risk perceptions, particularly of the vulnerable groups, and being able to tailor risk communication and community engagement strategies based on nuanced understanding". Ake世界播


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