Journal of Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences

ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year
: 2022  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 46--51

Assessment of knowledge and awareness of general public on COVID-19 in Hyderabad city: A cross-sectional study


V Krishna Priya, V V V. R Krishna Murthy, M Divya Banu, Milan S Mali 
 Department of Pediatric and Preventive Denristry, Army College of Dental Sciences, Secunderabad, Telangana, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. M Divya Banu
Department of Pediatric and Preventive Dentistry, Army College of Dental Sciences, Secunderabad – 500 083, Telangana
India

Abstract

Background: Coronavirus disease, also called COVID-19, is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Since it has turned to be a pandemic, the main management aims at prevention protocols. It is important to understand the knowledge and awareness levels of the general public regarding this infection to form guidelines and implement them. Objectives: The study is focused on the evaluation of knowledge and awareness levels, their attitude, and the practices being followed by both adults and children in Hyderabad about the COVID-19 pandemic and thus, helping in eliminating possible barriers related to implementation and practicing of guidelines by the public and formation of customized guidelines for the population under study. Methodology: A cross-sectional online questionnaire study was conducted among the general population of Hyderabad during the peak incidence of COVID-19 cases in the city. The questionnaire consisted of 22 questions which were divided into two parts: Sociodemographic details and the COVID-19 questionnaire. Results: A total of 682 responses were obtained from all age groups (20 years and above) with varied frequency. Nearly 98% population was aware of the ongoing pandemic and the majority knew the important details about the virus. 93% public followed a combination of preventive measures. The majority of children were staying at home. Only 18% were aware of the helpline numbers. Conclusion: The main strategy to prevent or limit COVID-19 is campaigns and events to enhance health education and awareness. Also, changing the attitude of the public and forming strict guidelines will help in the long run.



How to cite this article:
Priya V K, Krishna Murthy VV, Banu M D, Mali MS. Assessment of knowledge and awareness of general public on COVID-19 in Hyderabad city: A cross-sectional study.J NTR Univ Health Sci 2022;11:46-51


How to cite this URL:
Priya V K, Krishna Murthy VV, Banu M D, Mali MS. Assessment of knowledge and awareness of general public on COVID-19 in Hyderabad city: A cross-sectional study. J NTR Univ Health Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Sep 24 ];11:46-51
Available from: https://www.jdrntruhs.org/text.asp?2022/11/1/46/345808


Full Text



 Introduction



The novel Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019) presents an important and urgent threat to global health which is caused by SARS-Cov-2.[1] It is a severe acute respiratory syndrome that has become a pandemic. Its spectrum ranges from mild, self-limiting respiratory tract disease to ruthless progressive pneumonia, multiple organ dysfunction, septic shock, bleeding and coagulation disorders, severe metabolic acidosis, and death.[2] The novel influenza virus has caused four pandemics until now. They are H1N1 Spanish Flu in 1918, H2N2 Asian flu in 1918, H3N2 Hong Kong flu in 1968, and H1N1 Swine flu in 2009.[3] COVID-19 was declared as a public health emergency on January 30, 2020, and was considered to be a major concern internationally. Thus, all countries were asked to contribute to the prevention of the rapid spread of the virus.[4]

The virus is contagious and because of lack of knowledge of the disease and negligence by the general population, this disease has spread like a chain. Besides affecting overall health, it has also taken a heavy toll on mental, social, and psychological aspects of one's overall health. With the daily increment in cases of COVID-19, managing patients has become a challenging task for health care professionals.

In mid-2020, the disease was at its peak in Telangana which created a need for awareness among the general population. In the anticipation to prevent the spread of the disease, the government had issued the advisories based on WHO guidelines and information, which was prompted towards implementation of public health protocols which included social distancing, hand washing, lockdown, and usage of masks.[5]

The SARS outbreak in 2003 indicated that the general awareness and attitude of the population related to any infectious disease was associated with panic and emotional disturbances which complicated the implementation of measures to prevent the disease. Hence, to manage the pandemic effectively, it is important to understand the views, behaviors, and concerns of the public, their most trusted source of information, and the causes to violate or follow the guidelines.[6],[7]

Considering the lack of studies on awareness of the general population about this pandemic in Telangana state, this survey was conducted among the general public in Hyderabad to help in figuring out the ways to control this pandemic in the state.

 Materials and Methods



Study design

A cross-sectional survey was conducted among the general population in Hyderabad, India using a structured online questionnaire prepared using Google form. The ethical clearance was obtained. The form was distributed using various online platforms like emails, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook. The period taken for conducting the survey was 2 months, between June 2020 and August 2020. The participants included were above 20 years. A few samples were collected manually for digitally challenged participants also.

Sample size and statistical analysis

A sample size of 664 was estimated using a P value of 0.05 at a 99% confidence interval and a 5% margin of error to represent the adequate population of Hyderabad. We received 682 responses which were analyzed. Appropriate statistical tests were used as required.

Study tool

The questionnaire was framed based on the WHO guidelines and information on COVID-19 and the practices and needs of the population under study [Table 1]. The questionnaire was designed both in local language and English with multiple-choice patterns to assist the participant in filling the form according to their convenience. The questionnaire had two sections. The first part included participant's sociodemographic profile like age, gender, medical or non-medical profession, and whether they were a parent or not and the second part had 18 questions to assess the knowledge and awareness about COVID-19.{Table 1}

 Results



A total of 682 responses were obtained and the statistics of each subsection are shown in [Table 2].{Table 2}

Sociodemographic profile

Most of the participants belonged to the age group of 20--25 and the least being 50 and above. Females were nearly larger than males and approximately 37% of participants were parents. There was a contribution by both medical and non-medical professionals and the latter showing a larger percentage.

Awareness about COVID-19

Nearly 98% of the population were aware of the ongoing pandemic but 27% were not aware of the difference between Coronavirus and COVID-19. The majority of them believed to know the latent period but a minority of the population seemed to be not very accurate with the actual latent period. Similar results came for awareness about the survival of the virus on metal surfaces.

Awareness about transmission of the virus

88% believed that they were capable of transmitting the infection without experiencing any symptoms and 95% were aware of the difference between isolation and quarantine. 93% accepted that washing hands with oil solutions, wearing protective masks and quarantining, all were important to prevent the spread of infection.

Children and COVID-19

40% of the population were parents out of which 36% of parents answered that their children were aware of the infection and the majority of the kids stayed or played inside the home during the peak time of COVID-19.

Helpline number awareness

96% of the population knew about when to contact the helpline number for COVID-19 and 18% knew the helpline number.

Protocols followed by people

There was a mixed reaction for the frequency of people going out during the peak period of infection. 47% went once in a few days and 39% never left the house. 95% of people used the combination of preventive measures like wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing. 99% of the population were following a quarantine period of 14--21 days whenever required.

Public opinion about controlling COVID-19

People provided mixed reactions regarding the benefit of lockdown in controlling the infection. 42.5% of the study population could not estimate the benefit, 30% believed that lockdown will not benefit in controlling the infection, whereas 27.5% favored the benefit of lockdown. The majority of the population (82.5%) believed that the developed countries were not able to control the infection due to combined factors involving population, government, and undetected cases in the early stages, 7.1% population associated it with delayed response of the government in taking essential steps. Only 5% and 5.4% population related to the ignorance of population and undetected cases of COVID-19 in earlier stages.

 Discussion



COVID-19 is rapidly spreading in India. The total number of positive cases in Telangana by June 30 was 88,563 and the cases were increasing rapidly. As there was no vaccine and evident treatment at that period, prevention and awareness were the major tools to limit this disease. Although now vaccines and management techniques are available, the second wave is becoming more brutal and rapid. Thus, it shows that public awareness and participation are necessary to limit this condition. To achieve this, people should be educated about the disease and its progression, prevention methods. Also, they should be motivated to instill the same in their lives.

India has a population of almost 1,352,642,280 which makes it the second-most populous nation in the world.[8] Also, almost 68.8% of people live in rural areas. Hyderabad has a population of about 70,00,000 approximately.[9] As the population density is high, it becomes difficult to implement the preventive measures as instructed by the government, especially social distancing.

The findings of this survey should be used to set information campaign on COVID-19. It was satisfactory that people knew about the ongoing pandemic but since the minor percentage of the population were not aware of the difference between Coronavirus and COVID-19, its latent period, and the existence of virus on metal surfaces, they are more prone to avoid sanitizing hands post-physical contact with various metal surfaces and they can come in contact with an infected or carrier person without any safety measures. This was in support of the study conducted by Abdelhafiz et al.[10] where 81.8% of the population were aware that the disease could be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers.

Almost 61% of the study population stepped out of home though the frequency was altered. In our study, 1.3% Washed hands with oil-based solutions, 1.7% wore protective masks, 1.7% followed social distancing, and 95.4% population used a combination of these while going out of the home. This is in support of the study done by Tomar et al.,[11] in which approximately 95% population (90.7% males and 97.1% females) claimed to be taking adequate protective measures while leaving home.

Children can be the most challenging population group to implement the health guidelines. Since 60% of the participants were not parents, the awareness among the children and the preventive measures taken by them requires more assessment by increasing the sample size of parents. But from the 40% population of parents in the study, it was revealed that the majority of children knew about the virus and played within the home. But the minority of the population who played outside may be more prone to this infection as making children follow the basic guidelines is a challenging task. Although people knew when to contact the COVID helpline number, only a minority of them knew the contact number. This makes it important to create awareness about the contact details among the local population. Almost 50% of the population were going out of the home during the lockdown period. Hence, following the combination of all the guidelines is necessary.

Only 27.5% population believed that lockdown could limit the infection whereas 42.5% were not sure which indicates that they may not follow the lockdown procedure seriously. Almost 82.5% population believed that developed countries could not limit the infection due to a combination of public, government, and undiagnosed cases.

 Conclusion



Only a very limited number of studies have been done among the general population of Hyderabad which is the major population contributing city of Telangana. COVID-19 infection can spread rapidly even if one infected or carrier person comes in contact with others. Hence, even though a very minor percentage of the population in the study lacked awareness and did not follow the proper guidelines, it makes it necessary to enhance the awareness and strict guidelines and rules should be made. World Health Organization has given guidelines and Mythbusters which can enhance the knowledge of the public. But since some part of the population was not digitally sound, it again becomes the responsibility of the local authorities to provide this knowledge using local television channels, pamphlets, and radio.

A pandemic cannot be limited without the cooperation of the public. Thus, it has to be a combined effort of government, public and healthcare workers to eradicate COVID-19 infection.

Limitations

Since the majority of the population were not parents, a study with a more parent population is suggested.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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