Social distancing, mask and sanitisers weapons against virus

MUSCAT: The government’s efforts to tame the spread of COVID-19 may turn out to be an exercise in futility if people do not follow precautions as the Sultanate reported 1,409 fresh cases and 18 deaths during the weekend.

While some traders are seen not adhering to the most basic of the safety rules by failing to apply proper sanitization and temperature checks, customers are mingling freely without paying attention to social distancing measures.

This is despite the rules that “as a precautionary measure, people going to the malls will be able to stay there for only two hours and those who have a body temperature above normal will not be allowed entry”.

Similar to their usual habit of perusing every section in the hypermarket before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, people are aimlessly roaming around instead of shopping.

In another case of egregious non-compliance, some staff in malls and hypermarkets are servicing the customers without hand gloves, and improperly worn face masks, thereby exposing themselves and others to the risk of coronavirus infection.

When this issue of non-adherence was brought to the notice of Rashid Palayil, manager of a hypermarket in Ruwi, he said, “We try our best to avoid crowding and also ask customers to use sanitisers and mask”.

But it is hard to enforce compliance with personal hygiene habits, he said, adding, “social obligation and commitment to abide by rules are more important factors.”

Although rules stipulate that “all trolleys and surfaces should be sterilised with 70 per cent alcohol wipes and consumers should be provided with sanitisers at all times,” these are ignored especially after the gradual lifting of restrictions.

In one shop, one employee was found to be using a dirty piece of cloth to clean the trolleys without using sanitisers.

“We are constantly asking people to avoid physical contact and maintain a distance of at least one metre from others. The only way to combat the spread of the virus is to break the cycle of transmission by practicing social distancing,” said an official in the ministry of health.

The Supreme Committee responsible for Oman’s pandemic response had earlier said that the virus could be brought under control only if people respected the social distancing measures.