When it came to non-compliance towards covering the 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 percent. 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 percent of Indians are wearing a mask while awareness levels around masks are at 90 percent 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 the spread of the virus. Compliance towards wearing a mask was seen to be highest among those in the age group of 36-55 years. Only 28 percent 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 percent 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 percent respondents wear a mask during the entire duration while out of the home; Around 30 percent put on the mask only when someone is in close vicinity; Over 73 percent respondents ensure their masks cover mouth and nose when stepping out; and that users belief handkerchief and face shield offered the highest protection with regards to coverage of ears, mouth, and nose.
It also found that women are more compliant and conscious of 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 were most popular, especially among the higher income group. Only around 21 percent of respondents go as far as using a face shield in addition to a mask. Over 70 percent use a mask only while stepping out of the home to visit crowded marketplaces or at work. The usage of a dupatta or scarf was the lowest.
Finally, one out of four clean their mask only with water, and a similar proportion of people keep their mask in sunlight for cleansing, found the study.