When it came to non-compliance towards covering face, breathing problems have emerged as a key reason, with 50 percent listing it in a nationwide survey, followed by discomfort and inconvenience at 44 per cent. Around 45 percent also assume that as long as social distancing was maintained, a mask was not required.
The survey, spread over 18 cities, was initiated by ApnaMask, an initiative by EkDesh, to understand overall compliance around wearing of masks. Only 44 per cent of Indians are wearing a mask while awareness levels around masks is at 90 per cent high. As the country is inching towards a complete Unlock, wearing a mask properly, maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene will be the three essentials of prevention of Covid-19.
The survey also revealed that young people within the age group 26-35 years believe that social distancing suffices as a preventive measure and are indifferent to being infected and are not convinced about the ability of a face mask or cover to control spread of virus. Compliance towards wearing a mask was seen to be highest among those in the age group of 36-55 years. Only 28 per cent ensure to masking-up while taking delivery of groceries or home deliveries.
Findings also show that 90 percent of respondents who participated in the survey are aware of all the guidelines issued by the Government of India as well as other organizations to protect from Covid-19 infection. However, when it came to overall practice, compliance was low especially among the lower social strata. Interestingly, only around 44 per cent are completely compliant in terms of wearing it correctly and in all relevant situations.
Are Indians using a mask properly?
When it comes to proper usage of masks, the survey revealed interesting findings: Only 50 per cent respondents wear a mask during the entire duration while out of home; Around 30 per cent put on the mask only when someone is in close vicinity; Over 73 per cent respondents ensure their masks cover mouth and nose when stepping out; and that users belief handkerchief and face shield offered highest protection with regards to coverage of ears, mouth and nose.
It also found that women are more compliant and conscious to using masks properly than men.
Respondents also showed a clear preference for N95 masks, cloth masks and surgical masks has emerged in the findings. The N95 masks was most popular, especially among the higher income group. Only around 21 per cent respondents go as far as using a face shield in addition to a mask. Over 70 per cent use a mask only while stepping out of home to visit crowded marketplaces or at work. Usage of a dupatta or scarf was lowest. Finally, one out of four clean their mask only with water, and similar proportion of people keep their mask in sunlight for cleansing, found the study. (Siddhi Jain)