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Posted On: 19 October 2020 03:00 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 09:12 am

Pandemic fatigue: Are we tired of wearing masks and physical distancing?

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Now that we’re into the last quarter of 2020 and with the presence of the pandemic in Qatar for almost seven months now, are people in Qatar tired of the new normal? Has the so-called “pandemic fatigue” set in? Are we tired of abiding by the COVID-19 precautionary measures such as wearing masks, hand washing, and physical distancing?

Are people in Qatar tired of following COVID-19 precautionary measures?

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Qatar early on have helped with curbing the spread of the virus and that the citizens and residents of Qatar have abided by the guidelines set by the government. But now that we’re way past the second phase of Phase 4 of the gradual lifting of restrictions, there are some people disregarding the safety guidelines even with the threat of being infected with the virus still present.

“I now often see people walking inside the mall without their mask on,” says an ILQ follower.

Another follower recounted to us an incident he witnessed at one popular coffee shop inside a mall wherein the cashier asked a customer to put on his mask while ordering. “The male shouted at the employee, then when employee backed off slightly, the customer grabbed the cashier by the neck and pushed him away, telling him to “be careful.” He also added that he has seen a similar incident in another big shopping mall where a mallgoer pushed a security guard after being told to put on the mask. “I've also seen similar situations many times during this period,” he further mentioned.

Disregard for wearing masks aren’t limited to malls, as another ILQ follower mentioned to us how the majority of workers going to establishments Abdullah bin Thani Street don’t wear masks anymore while sitting/standing close to each other.

On the other hand, people who have had experience with the virus or know personally someone who did, tend to abide by the guidelines more than others who didn't.

What is pandemic fatigue?

And it’s not just in Qatar, as the World Health Organization said last October 7 that “In recent weeks, many countries have been reporting an increase in “pandemic fatigue” – people are feeling demotivated about following recommended behaviors to protect themselves and others from the virus."

The WHO went on to say in its report that “Such demotivation is natural and expected at this stage of a crisis. At the beginning of a crisis, most people are able to tap into their surge capacity – a collection of mental and physical adaptive systems that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations. However, when dire circumstances drag on, they have to adopt a different style of coping, and fatigue and demotivation may be the result.”

Could this lead to a resurgence in cases?

While other countries have since seen a resurgence in cases due to “pandemic fatigue”, there is currently no second wave of the virus in the country according to Dr. Al Khal, Head of the Infectious Diseases Division at Hamad Medical Corporation, during a webinar on October 8 titled “Qatar’s Response to COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned”, part of Al Maerifa Public Seminar Series organized by Texas A&M University at Qatar.

“We can describe the situation at this point as being steady or stable and we are not witnessing a second wave-like in many other countries,” Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, Chair of the National Strategic Group on COVID-19 said, as reported on Qatar Tribune.

The new reality

This doesn't mean that the threat is going to go away anytime soon. With no end in sight, experts still believe that adhering to the necessary precautions is a must while we adapt to the new reality. In Qatar, the core precautionary measures are still in place which includes physical distancing, wearing of masks, showing green status of Ehteraz app upon entry, thermal screening, and more.

Cover image for illustration purposes only. Image: Shutterstock

Are you experiencing "pandemic fatigue" or know someone who does? Do you think that we’ll do away with the safety measures once there’s a vaccine? Or that the new normal is here to stay?