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P26 The Practice of Face Masking Among Young Adults in South India: An Online Cross-Sectional Survey During Second Wave of COVID-19

      Objectives

      COVID-19 pandemic urges the need for respiratory protective equipment like face masks as a public health measure to control the spread of infection. This study aimed to investigate the trends followed in the practice of mask-wearing by the South Indian population amid the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak in 2021.

      Methods

      A web-based, online cross-sectional survey was conducted among the young adult population in India in late April 2021. An eight-item questionnaire was designed to assess the social perceptions and attitudes regarding wearing a face mask as a part of universal safety precautions. The social perceptions towards wearing masks were categorized as excellent, good average and poor on a scale (Social Perception Scale -SPS) scored out of 8. The details collected using a predesigned google form are statistically analyzed using the Chi-square test with a p-value of < 0.05 is considered statistically significant.

      Results

      Among the 1283 participants who completed the questionnaire, 57% wore cloth masks followed by 26% wearing N95 masks and 12% wearing surgical masks. Even though the age of the study population varied from 19 – 76 years and with a male preponderance of 56.3% (n = 723), students and recent graduates participated largely in the study (71.8%, n = 922). A mean SPS score of 5.67±1.07 (out of 8) indicates that the social perception of the study population is good. A statistically significant association is observed between the SPS score and the age (p = 0.003), type of mask used (p < 0.001), and economic background of the study population (p <0.001). Breathing difficulty, communication problems, additional cost incurred and dermatologic issues were commonly reported barriers against mask-wearing.

      Conclusions

      Adjunctive public health measures such as mask-wearing are crucial in curbing the COVID-19 transmission. By shaping an appropriate public attitude, policymakers can ensure compliance towards mask-wearing.