KATHMANDU: Almost all Nepalese are well aware of the coronavirus and know about the precautions to take against it.
This is according to a recent survey conducted by the Sharecast Initiative Nepal among 1,110 respondents from 47 districts of the country.
The survey, conducted by phone on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, shows that more than 98 per cent of the people know about the COVID-19 pandemic and more than 90 per cent of the people know the measures to take against it, such as washing hands with soap and water, wearing a mask, sneezing into a tissue and avoiding crowded places. More than 90 per cent of the people can also identify its three major symptoms – fever, cough and difficulty in breathing.
The survey also shows that a majority of the people (64.4 per cent) are extremely alert about the disease and fear that the influx of foreign returnees, a lack of adequate testing and the open border with India, among other reasons, can cause an outbreak in Nepal.
However, when it comes to people reporting suspected cases or seeking consultation, the numbers aren’t very encouraging. Slightly more than 50 per cent respondents reported that they visited the hospital or a health facility when they had suspicious symptoms. While others said they would consult their local representatives, inform the chief of their local level or call an official [hotline] number, a considerable portion (14.1 per cent) said they would stay home. Given the extremely contagious nature of this disease, this minority, while small, can pose a huge challenge in the event of an outbreak.
Asked where they get virus-related information from, an overwhelming majority of people mentioned radio and television. More than a quarter of the survey respondents also cited Facebook as their primary source of COVID-19 information. Less than one per cent followed the print media to stay updated on the outbreak.
Regarding the ongoing lockdown, nearly 69 per cent of the Nepalis agreed with the government’s decision and said that the closure should continue until things settle down. Almost an equal number also said that the people in their area were abiding by the lockdown.
The survey also shows that while 53 per cent of the people stocked up on food and vegetables to prepare for the lockdown, nearly 44 per cent did nothing, which may become an issue if the nationwide shutdown needs to be enforced for an extended period of time.
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