With rising COVID risk, 57% want mask made mandatory in flights and at airports again
- ● Only 7% travelers say mask compliance effective in flights/at airports in last 90 days
- ● 65% support Government’s move of testing of international passengers
- ● 37% want social distancing norms back in force at airports; 24% in flights also
December 25, 2022, New Delhi: Barely two weeks after the Chinese government issued new guidelines easing some of its strict zero-COVID policies like testing requirements, quarantine in hospital for those tested positive and travel restrictions, researchers’ fears of a resurgence have been realised. Unlike in the first wave in late 2019 and early 2020, when the surge was limited to a few parts of China, this time the surge appears to be nationwide.
Some global epidemiologists are estimating that more than 60% of China and 10% of the world's population are likely to be infected over the next 90 days with deaths likely in the millions. China has reported no Covid deaths in Beijing since the authorities announced four deaths between November 19 and 23. Ground reports from China however show an extremely difficult situation with no hospital beds available, long waits at crematoriums and a Bloomberg report estimates 5000 daily deaths in the country.
However, the sudden rise in the number of people infected by COVID and its variants in China just ahead of the year end festivities particularly has led many countries to reevaluate the situation back home and mull how to prevent another pandemic like situation or even panic.
In India, so far, a handful of cases of BF.7 Omicron variant have been detected. Given the situation in China, the MoHFW has issued an advisory asking states to increase genome testing highlighting the need for monitoring different variants in India. Citizens also are concerned and in the last one week and hundreds of inputs have been received on the China situation by LocalCircles. Some citizens have also been expressing the need to shut flights from China. Currently flights from mainland China to India are through other countries while direct flights run from Hong Kong to India. 7 in 10 Indians in the recent LocalCircles survey were in favpur of restricting flights from China and Hong Kong and ensuring that all arriving passengers who have been in China in the last two weeks are tested for Covid and if positive, kept under mandatory quarantine. Paying heed to the citizen ask via LocalCircles, the Government has announced mandatory screening of all international passengers on Dec 23rd.
With the latest Government action of Covid testing of arriving international passengers at airports and continued citizen inputs on the subject, LocalCircles has conducted a follow on survey to understand mask compliance at airports currently and whether mask should be made mandatory again at airports and in flights. The survey also validated from people if they supported the Government’s move to do Covid testing for international passengers that arrive. The survey received over 20,000 responses from citizens located in 312 districts of India. 67% respondents were men while 33% respondents were women. 45% respondents were from tier 1, 33% from tier 2 and 22% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
87% find little or no mask compliance by those using flights/ airports in the last 90 days
The first question in this survey asked respondents “When you travelled using flights/ airports in the last 90 days, what was your common experience in regards to compliance to masking norms”. Over 10,000 responded to the query with 64% reporting that there is “no mask compliance at all”; 23% indicated that “0-30% people were wearing masks properly”; 6% found “30-60% people were wearing masks properly”; and 7% found “60-90%” taking safety measures. The responses indicate that only 7% air travellers rate mask compliance in flights and airports as effective while 87% found the compliance to be non-existent or low with less than 30% people complying to masking norms in the last 90 days.
57% citizens surveyed in favour of Government making masking mandatory at airports and in flights; 65% want all arriving international passengers to undertake Covid testing at airport
The survey next asked respondents, “What all measures should India take at this time to minimize its COVID risks?”. Many of the respondents indicated more than one measure thus the majority or 65% of respondents desired that “all international arrivals must go through COVID testing at airport and if positive, undertake mandatory institutional quarantine”; 57% wanted that “mask must be made mandatory in flights and at airports”; 37% desire that “social distancing norms must be enforce in airports”; and 24% want “social distancing norms” be enforced in flights also. However, 16% of the respondents are not in favour of reinforcing social distancing norms at airports or in flights, while 2% have not made their views known. A total of 10,522 responses were received to this survey question.
In summary, 87% citizens who traveled by flights in the last 90 days have indicated that mask compliance in flights and at airports is currently ineffective. With what China is experiencing, many people believe “it is better to be safe than sorry” and 57% of those surveyed want Government to mandate masks at airports and in flights. Also 65% citizens surveyed were of the opinion that every arriving international passenger should be required to undertake the Covid test and if positive be subject to mandatory quarantine. This indicates support for Government’s recent move to test arriving international passengers.
LocalCircles will be sharing the findings of the survey with all key stakeholders in Central and State Governments so that citizens’ feedback can be taken into account as decisions regarding flight restrictions, screening and quarantine are taken.
The survey received over 20,000 responses from citizens located in 312 districts of India. 67% respondents were men while 33% respondents were women. 45% respondents were from tier 1, 33% from tier 2 and 22% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.