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Although 92.9 per cent people think wearing face masks is an imperative to stave off coronavirus, 67.40 per cent said they do not wear masks as it causes discomfort and heat stress. While 20.90 per cent mentioned suffocation and breathing difficulty while wearing masks.

These have been revealed in an online opinion survey, jointly conducted by BRAC and Prothom Alo in association with Lifebuoy.

The findings were revealed at a webinar on Thursday moderated by Prothom Alo special news editor Shawkat Hossain.

A total of 320,781 respondents participated in the survey conducted between 31 July and 18 August.

The survey comprised 10 questions, five of which were on wearing masks, four on hand-washing and one on social distancing practices. The survey was conducted on social media and the Prothom Alo website.

On the results of the survey, Mushtaq Hossain, former chief scientific officer, Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said, “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.”

Such opinion polls will help us have a better picture of what’s going on in the field
Mushtaq Hossain

He said hand washing stands with soap and water should be placed where necessary and adequate diagnosis and quarantine facilities should be ensured.

“Such opinion polls will help us have a better picture of what’s going on in the field,” he added.

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Shishir Moral shared experience of his recent visit in Khulna’s Dakop and Paikgachha upazilas.

He said people were found unaware of the necessity to wear masks although there are coronavirus infected people in two upazilas.

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In response to a question on how masks can reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, 85.2 per cent viewed that wearing masks properly helps prevent respiratory droplets of sneeze and cough carrying the virus from travelling into the air, while 8.7 per cent maintained masks prevent contaminated air from entering lungs. But, 5.4 per cent responses did not simply believe that masks can reduce the risk of COVID-19.

About 38.40 per cent participants said they often forget to wash their hands regularly while 44.9 per cent respondents termed unavailability of soap and water as the major obstacle in washing hands.

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.”

He said Lifebuoy has set up hand washing facilities for slum-dwellers and distributed huge amounts of soaps among the people in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the respondents, 35.50 per cent said they wash their hands 3-5 times a day before they participated in the survey. About 25.60 per cent respondents washed their hands more than 10 times the previous day while 27.7 per cent washed hands for 6-9 times. Nine per cent respondents said they washed hands only 1-2 times.

According to 30.10 per cent respondents, lack of space mainly bars people from keeping a safe physical distance of 3 feet in the public spaces.

About 38.40 per cent participants said they often forget to wash their hands regularly while 44.9 per cent respondents termed unavailability of soap and water as the major obstacle in washing hands. Around 6.70 per cent respondents 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 30.10 per cent respondents, lack of space mainly bars people from keeping a 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, 8.1 per cent said they just forget they should follow the safe distance rule while in a public place.

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