We all have been optimistic that we will overcome the pandemic and that we will go back to work, gather in restaurants and theatres and sports stadiums. We also are confident that our children will come out of the screens and will be able to study in schools and spend time with their friends.
Even as the dreaded coronavirus is still ripping through the globe, we are relieved that everything is limping back to normal in the Sultanate. Of course, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we have started seeing it.
Although an immediate end evades the pandemic, its intensity is diminishing, and that our streets will return to something approximating usual, if not with the same hustle and bustle as before.
What we do over the coming months can ensure that our cities and all other areas of activities run again. But for this, we have to protect ourselves against occurrence of similar scenarios in the future. This is the time we must show the way forward.
Now, over 20 months into this unprecedented situation, people have become accustomed to lives and the routines of the pandemic. Cases have plunged significantly after rapid pace of vaccination.
As the shops and other commercial establishments opened, the number of people on the streets has started slowly swelling. Along with these signs of normalcy are the menacing rise of littering. No place is exempted.
Everywhere you look there are discarded gloves and masks in streets and parking lots, left behind by people who were not bothered to find a trash bin.
Many of the gloves and masks worn by people to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are finding their way onto sidewalks in an act, I consider, as a sign of disrespect to the fellow beings. Despite repeated appeals by health experts and authorities, I wonder why they dump it wantonly!
For argument sake, one can say that the virus won’t leave the surface and jump on your face. Also you claim that the clean-up crews picking up this kind of litter are safe as long as they wear gloves. But they are still a hazard to both humans and the environment.
Studies have revealed that coronavirus is primarily transmitted through droplets of mucus and saliva when a person sneezes or coughs. Masks stop these droplets from reaching other persons’ body parts. But if an infected person throws away the mask in the open, it will definitely affect all who come in contact.
Evidence also suggests masks may be a source of harmful micro plastic fibres on land and in waterways and litter. When they are discarded into the environment, it goes into sewer systems or water bodies. It breaks down into micro plastics, which still attract pesticides and other harmful chemicals. So when the marine animals eat it, they don’t just get the plastic, they get the chemicals too.
No doubt, it is frustrating to see the unscrupulous act of littering public places. With such behaviours, where is our dignity? Where is our respect or civic sense? We always judge everyone and everything! And what we don’t like, we claim it as a violation of our rights!
But where are these rights when we throw masks and gloves that can infect others and malign the environment?
We should remember the fact that we won’t be safe if others are in danger!