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90% aware but only 44% of India is wearing a face mask

A comprehensive nation-wide survey to understand compliance towards mask wearing by EkDesh

  • Inconvenience and Breathing problems cited as reasons for non-compliance
  • Belief that social distancing is enough behind non-usage of masks 
  • Young people are the most prone to flout compliance – be it wearing masks or stepping out of home unnecessarily
  • Women in general are seen to be more compliant than men when it comes to following safe practices

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% Indians are wearing a mask while awareness levels around masks is at 90% 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 explores various aspects of mask wearing among SEC A and SEC B sections of society and has been structured to understand the following:

  • Awareness on safe practices for safeguarding oneself from being infected by the coronavirus
  • Compliance amongst different segments of the population towards wearing masks.

According to Shekhar KiraniFounding Member ACT Grant and Partner Accel Ventures said, “While India has steadily moved towards unlock, 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 the slow down of COVID-19 spread.  In India, 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% 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 and reveals the following:

Awareness of preventive measures and practice

Findings show that 90% 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% 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 face, breathing problems emerged (50%) as key reason, followed by discomfort and inconvenience at 44%. This was followed by the assumption that as long as social distancing was maintained, a mask was not required as per 45% of respondents.

Further, young people within age group 26-35 years believe that social distancing suffices as a preventive measure and were 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% 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% respondents wear a mask during the entire duration while out of home
  • Around 30% put on the mask only when someone is in close vicinity
  • Over 73% respondents ensure their masks cover mouth and nose when stepping out
  • Women are more compliant and conscious to using masks properly than men
  • Users belief handkerchief and face shield offered 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 was most popular, especially among the higher income group. Only around 21% respondents go as far as using a face shield in addition to a mask.

Over 70% of respondents use a mask only while stepping out of 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 inconvenience that the soldiers face at the battle front 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 they have recruited 200,000 plus Corona Soldiers including Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom, Yogeshwar Dutt, Chef Vikas Khanna, Bipasha Basu, Mouni Roy and Diana Penty.

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