Dr VK Paul, Member-Health of NITI Aayog, on Friday expressed concern over the decline in the use of face masks in the country and said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against it as the global scene of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is disturbing.
Paul also said that India needs to remember that both the COVID-19 vaccine and face masks are important.
"Mask usage is declining. We have to remember that both vaccines and masks are important. We should learn from the global situation," said Paul while addressing the health briefing.
"WHO is warning against the decline in mask usage. The global scene of Omicron is disturbing," he added.
As far as protection capability is concerned, Paul said that India is now operating at a risky and unacceptable level.
"We have to remember that both vaccines and masks are important. It is not the time to remove masks yet," reiterated Paul.
Further, he said, "The United Kingdom and France are experiencing a massive wave due to this variant. The pandemic caused by the virus is full of surprises and unexpected turns, so it is very important to protect yourself from it."
Talking about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron virus, Paul said that it is effective against all variants. "The variants aren't so smart yet that they can surpass the vaccine protection," he said.
The Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Balram Bhargava added that regular meetings are being organised to keep a watch on the global scenario and Covid scene in India with a focus on Omicron.
"We need help to not spread panic. District level restrictions to be implemented where positivity over 5 per cent," he added.