A recent survey by COAST Trust shows that around 49 percent of low-income people in coastal areas have no clear idea on primary protective measures against the coronavirus.
Among the respondents, 13 percent do not know why one should use a mask.
COAST Trust, an NGO working in the coastal areas of Bangladesh, carried out a Covid-19 Awareness and Practice Survey 2020 from April 10 – 19, and published the report on Thursday.
In the survey, 74 percent respondents said they do not know what the IEDCR (Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control, and Research) is, and have no idea about its services.
The monitoring and Research department of the organisation randomly selected 250 low-wage earners in Cox's Bazar and Bhola district. Two small islands in the Bay of Bengal, Kutubdia and Char Motahar under Bhola were also included.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of COAST Trust said that the organisation conducted the survey to find out how poor people in coastal areas are fighting against this completely unknown disaster.
The survey aimed at assessing the primary knowledge of poor people in coastal areas, and how they are complying with the health directives.
Around 47 percent of the respondents were female while 53 percent were male.
Among the female respondents, 80 percent were housewives and the rest included students, drop-out adolescents and elderly people.
About 10 percent of the respondents were farmers, 18 percent day-labourers, 19 percent small entrepreneurs, and 13 percent fishermen.
Covid-19 spreads through touch, so the World Health Organisation has put stress on hand washing. All the awareness raising messages highlighted hand washing, and details on how to do it properly.
Despite the massive awareness campaign across the country, it was found that 49 percent of the respondents do not know the basic rules of hand washing.
During the survey, about 43 percent of the respondents said they were unable to follow those rules for reasons including less availability of soap all the time.
Around 26 percent of the respondents have a misconception about how the virus spreads.
In the survey, about 53 percent of the respondents were not fully aware of the primary symptoms of a person who has been infected by Covid-19.
When asked about the sneezing and coughing etiquette, 64 percent of the respondents mentioned using tissues, napkins, or the elbow. The remaining 36 percent said they had no idea about it.
Almost all the housewives said that they do not have any direct access to information on Covid-19. They have to depend on family members who go outside.
The survey showed that it is hardly possible for low-wage earners to stay at home. Around 37 percent of the respondents said that they go to the market once a week or less frequently.
The remaining 63 percent of the respondents go to the market every two or three days to buy food and other necessary items.
Around 24 percent of them have no idea about social distancing.
Sixty six percent of the respondents said that fewer people go to the mosque now to avoid the Covid-19 infection. And, 28 percent of them said that the mosques in their areas were following the government health directives.
Among the respondents, 56 percent don't know about 'Home Quarantine' or have a misconception about it.
After analysing the survey results, COAST Trust mentioned that a low-income person can hardly afford an ordinary mask that costs Tk30 to Tk40.
Small entrepreneurs have to go to the market every day to sell their products.
They desperately need financial support which is not available now since microfinance operations are closed.
They survey report wraps up with a few recommendations that include increased testing facilities in coastal districts; and involving NGOs, other organisations and religious leaders in awareness-raising and information dissemination.
Microfinance should be reopened to finance small entrepreneurs, and initiatives should be taken to help them transport their products following proper protective health measures.