With the coronavirus-infected cases in Pakistan surpassing ten thousand as of Wednesday, resulting in more than two hundred deaths, a new study reveals that only half of Pakistanis are aware of the common risk factors associated with Covid-19. This ignorance becomes even more worrying given the fact that lockdown measures across the country have been eased — with the industry allowed to operate and mosques allowed to hold congregational prayers during Ramazan under certain SOPs, which however are not easy to be adhered to.
The study — conducted by Aga Khan University’s Medical College and its Research Council — was meant to assess the knowledge of people in urban and rural parts of the country about several corona-related aspects, including: symptoms of the virus, its mode of transmission, how to guard against it, what sources of information about the disease are being relied upon, what practices should be adopted during isolation period in case of contracting the virus, and whether or not Covid-19 can be cured with any existing medicines.
Conclusions drawn from the study are a big cause for concern, with some of them manifesting the pathetic level of awareness among the people, like: about 74% of the rural respondents naively believe that Covid-19 is caused by mosquito bite; 90% of the rural residents are unaware of the vulnerability of being in a crowded place; and 60% of the urban and 83% of the rural respondents incorrectly believe that pneumonia vaccines can protect them from the disease.
On a positive note though, the study notes widespread awareness among the public about the importance of hand washing, coughing into one’s flexed elbow, and keeping a protective distance from those who are coughing or sneezing — the precautions that have been vigorously advertised through the various media platforms. The findings of the study, thus, very rightly stress the need for raising the level of awareness among the public through mainstream and social media.
The government is, therefore, required to facilitate efforts for developing informative health awareness material on the virus and focus on its communication through the media so as to increase the awareness about the lethal virus.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2020.
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