India, September 22, 2020: A nationwide 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 Indians are wearing a mask while awareness levels around masks are at a 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 to prevent COVID-19.
The survey explores various aspects of mask-wearing among SEC A and SEC B sections of society and has been structured to understand the following:
- Awareness of safe practices for safeguarding oneself from being infected by the coronavirus
- Compliance amongst different segments of the population towards wearing masks
According to Shekhar Kirani, Founding Member ACT Grant and Partner Accel Ventures said, “While India has steadily moved towards unlocking, battling the pandemic needs a unified effort by the authorities at one level and citizens at another level to help control the spread. There is global evidence that face masks help in slowing down COVID-19 spread. Our survey findings have revealed that while there is a high level of awareness around wearing a mask, the compliance is very low or flawed. Through our Corona Soldier movement, we want every citizen in the country to step up and pledge support towards 100 per cent mask compliance. We firmly believe that diligent efforts towards masking a billion Indians will help save lives.
The survey was conducted in partnership with Crownit, a leading research company reveals the following:
Awareness of preventive measures and practice
Findings show that 90 per cent of respondents who participated in the survey are aware of all the guidelines issued by the Government of India as well as other organisations 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.
Breathing issues and Inconvenience are key factors behind non-compliance
When it came to non-compliance towards covering the face, breathing problems emerged (50 per cent) as a key reason, followed by discomfort and inconvenience at 44 per cent. This was followed by the assumption that as long as social distancing was maintained, a mask was not required as per 45 per cent of respondents.
Further, young people within the age group of 26-35 years believe that social distancing suffices as a preventive measure and was 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 per cent of respondents ensured to be masked-up while taking delivery of groceries or home deliveries.
Are Indians using a mask properly?
When it comes to proper usage of masks, the Survey revealed interesting findings:
- Only 50 per cent of 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 of respondents ensure their masks cover mouth and nose when stepping out
- Women are more compliant and conscious of using masks properly than men
- Users belief handkerchief and face shield offered the highest protection with regards to coverage of ears, mouth and nose.
Preference towards masks
Among the respondents regularly using masks, a clear preference towards 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 per cent of respondents go as far as using a face shield in addition to a mask.
Over 70 per cent of respondents use a mask only while stepping out of the home to visit crowded marketplaces or at work. Usage of a dupatta, scarf or chuniri was lowest among recipients.
To encourage people to wear masks, ApnaMask launched a pan India campaign ‘I am a Corona Solider’ aimed at recruiting ‘Corona Soldiers ’who pledge to wear a mask every time they step out of their homes and also encourage others to do the same. The campaign builds on patriotism, layered it with the inconvenience that the soldiers face at the battlefront yet continue to fight for the country. Army veterans, Lt Col MK Sinha (Retd) and Major Gaurav Arya (Retd) gave out a battle cry to every citizen of the country to become a Corona Soldier and protect the country from coronavirus. Till date, over 200,000 plus Corona Soldiers have been recruited, including Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom, Yogeshwar Dutt, Chef Vikas Khanna, Bipasha Basu, Mouni Roy and Diana Penty.