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Facemask Literacy and usage during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Study among Employees of the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka during July-August 2021

Authors:

S. Majeed,

University of Colombo, Colombo, LK
About S.
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine
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P. M. Atapattu ,

University of Colombo, Colombo, LK
About P. M.
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine
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A. D. A. Fernando,

University of Colombo, Colombo, LK
About A. D. A.
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine
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S. Wasalathanthri

University of Colombo, Colombo, LK
About S.
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine
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Abstract

Background: Correct facemask usage and disposal is crucial to prevent COVID-19 infection spread and environmental pollution.

 

Objectives: To assess the knowledge and practises on facemask usage among the employees of University of Colombo during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Methods: Web-based, descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted among the employees of University of Colombo using a pre-tested, self-administered questionnaire.

 

Results: All 208 respondents (female: male=33:19) always wore facemasks outside home. Majority preferred KN-95 (70%)/ surgical masks (64%) over cloth masks (3%). Most (81%) wore double masks, but only 14% practiced double masking as per Centre for disease control and prevention (CDC) recommendation. Only 70% wore facemasks at workplace, 50% inside public transport, 51% at home when outsiders were present and 28% when family members had respiratory symptoms. Removing /lowering facemasks in washrooms (19%), with 1m distancing (7%) or when answering phones (3%) was reported in public places. Main problems included difficulty in breathing (59%), feeling hot (50%), spectacle fogging (42%), and ear pain (42%). Majority disposed facemasks by burning (46%) or with other garbage (38%), highlighting the lack of a proper disposal system. High scores for knowledge (≥3) and usage patterns (≥4) were found in 93.3% and 68.7% respectively. Females had a higher statistically significant (p<0.05) knowledge on face masks. Correct usage of facemasks was significantly higher (p<0.05) among academics and employees with a higher educational level. 

 

Conclusion: Though the majority adhered to the correct usage of facemasks, some unsatisfactory practises were evident, which require prompt intervention to optimise the desired outcomes. Reinforcing education on the literacy and use of facemasks and developing methods for disposal are immediate necessities.

How to Cite: Majeed, S., Atapattu, P.M., Fernando, A.D.A. and Wasalathanthri, S., 2022. Facemask Literacy and usage during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Study among Employees of the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka during July-August 2021. Sri Lanka Journal of Medicine, 31(1), pp.77–87. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljm.v31i1.319
Published on 15 Aug 2022.
Peer Reviewed

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