Maintaining physical distance difficult in public places
Mask causes discomfort, stuffiness
The majority of responses, 61.10 per cent, received in a recent online opinion poll viewed that many people cannot maintain safe physical distance in public spaces during COVID-19 pandemic even if they want to as others around them do not follow the rule. According to 67.40 per cent responses, wearing masks causes discomfort and heat stress, while 20.90 per cent mentioned stuffiness and difficult breathing. While 72.60 per cent viewed regular hand washing as beneficial, 6.10 percent said they simply can't remember to wash hands.
The findings of the online opinion survey, jointly conducted by BRAC and the daily Prothom Alo in association with Lifebuoy, were revealed in a digitally organised media briefing today, on Thursday (June 27, 2020). Unilever Bangladesh marketing director Afzal Hasan Khan, BRAC associate director Dr Morseda Chowdhury, and Prothom Alo special correspondent Shishir Moral joined the event moderated by Prothom Alo special news editor Shawkat Hossain.
A total of 320 thousand and 71 responses were received in the survey conducted from 31 July to 18 August (2020). The survey comprised 10 questions, five of which were on wearing masks, four on hand-washing and one on social distancing practices.
Mushtaq Hossain, former chief scientific officer, Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said, “Novel Coronavirus was first detected in our country in March and now it’s August when it is not possible for us to sit at home anymore. We have to run our daily life while maintaining reasonable behaviour and taking effective measures. The public awareness campaign with messages about health safety need to continue. Hand washing stands with soap and water should be placed where necessary, while adequate diagnosis and quarantine facilities have to be ensured. We also need sufficient numbers of volunteers in every neighbourhood to ward off the social stigma around COVID-19 infection. Such opinion polls will help us have a better picture of what’s going on in the field.”
Unilever Bangladesh marketing director Afzal Hasan Khan said, “As a brand Lifebuoy has a mission to save lives. For years and years we have been working to prevent the spread of contagious diseases by helping people maintain their hygiene. From that obligation we have joined BRAC and Prothom Alo in this initiative.”
BRAC associate director Dr Morseda Chowdhury said, “BRAC has stood by the people of Bangladesh with its army of staff since pandemic broke out. We have been working across the country with holistic measures comprising a mass campaign of personal health safety measures to raise public awareness, food and cash assistance for poor and unemployed households and other activities. We have directly provided services to 79 million people since the pandemic had begun. Such surveys are helpful in preventing COVID-19.”
Prothom Alo special correspondent Shishir Moral described at the event his field observations about the country’s corona situation and remarked, “The general public are not taking this danger quite seriously, but lack of rigorous surveillance of the situation may bring much more suffering than we have experienced till now.”
In responses to a question on how masks can reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, 85.20 per cent viewed that wearing masks properly helps prevent respiratory droplets of sneeze and cough carrying the virus from travelling into the air, while 8.70 per cent maintained masks prevent contaminated air from entering lungs. But, 5.40 per cent responses did not simply believe that masks can reduce the risk of COVID-19.
Many responses (35.50 per cent) showed respondents washed their hands for 3-5 times the day before they participated in the survey. While 25.60 per cent respondents washed their hands more than 10 times the previous day, 27.70 per cent washed hands for 6-9 times. Alarmingly, 9% responses show they washed hands only 1-2 times.
On hand-washing habits, 38.40 per cent responses deemed forgetfulness as the biggest hurdle to wash their hands regularly. For 44.90 per cent responses unavailability of soap and water when and where necessary was the reason, while around 6.70 per cent responses said they could not wash hands regularly because soap is too costly. Another 9.20 per cent mentioned lack of time as the cause. According to most (90.10 per cent) of the responses, the standard 20-second duration rule to wash hands should be followed. However, 4.6 per cent said the standard duration should be 10 seconds.
According to 30.10 per cent responses, lack of space mainly bars people from keeping safe physical distance of 3 feet in the public spaces. However, 61 per cent responses maintained that they cannot keep the required distance as others do not always follow the rule. Meanwhile, 8.10 per cent said they just forget they should follow the safe distance rule while in a public place.