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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 239-244

Awareness and commitment towards precautionary measures against COVID-19 among residents of Majmaah City, Saudi Arabia


1 Department of Community Medicineand PublicHealth, College of Medicine, Majmaah University, Buraydah, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Applied Medical Sciences, Buraydah Private Colleges, Buraydah, Saudi Arabia
3 Medical Student, College of Medicine, Majmaah University, Al Majmaah, Saudi Arabia

Date of Submission18-Mar-2021
Date of Acceptance05-May-2021
Date of Web Publication04-Sep-2021

Correspondence Address:
Riyaz Ahamed Shaik
Department of Community Medicine, College of Medicine, Majmaah University, P.O. Box.66, Al Majmaah-11952
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/aihb.aihb_40_21

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  Abstract 


Introduction: The continued explosive spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 worldwide is a crucial problem for all countries. Even though it is becoming increasingly difficult to stop the spread of the virus according to the World Health Organisation, countries need to enforce strict measures to minimise its effects. This study attempts to assess the awareness and compliance of the local population for following the precautionary measures against. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out at different districts of Majmaah city, Saudi Arabia. A cross-sectional survey study was carried out at different districts of Majmaah city, Saudi Arabia, and 502 individual's respondents were included in the study. Data were collected using a self-↱administered questionnaire for noting compliance towards protective measures. All participants were informed about the nature of the study and given an informed consent form. Data were collected and analysed using [email protected] 25 (SPSS Version 25.0. Armonk, Newyork: IBM Corp). Categorical variables were expressed as frequencies and percentages. t-test was applied to compare mean scores.Results: There were 502 people who participated in this study, among them 260 (51.8%) were males and 242 (48.2%) females. This study highlighted that the population awareness was good and residents showed strong commitment towards coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) precautionary measures. The overall mean scores for awareness and commitment levels were 6.68 ± 1.04 and 4.00 ± 1.13. Conclusions: Most participants in the study had a positive perception of COVID-19 prevention and control. Residents of Saudi Arabia responded well to the threat imposed by COVID-19 and are following their government and health regulatory body's instructions. It is therefore suggested that this would also be a valuable resource for policymakers of Saudi Arabia

Keywords: Awareness, commitment, COVID-19, Majmaah city, safety measures, Saudi Arabia


How to cite this article:
Ahmad MS, Shaik RA, Ahmad RK, Almutairi AB, Alghuyaythat WK, Almutairi SB. Awareness and commitment towards precautionary measures against COVID-19 among residents of Majmaah City, Saudi Arabia. Adv Hum Biol 2021;11:239-44

How to cite this URL:
Ahmad MS, Shaik RA, Ahmad RK, Almutairi AB, Alghuyaythat WK, Almutairi SB. Awareness and commitment towards precautionary measures against COVID-19 among residents of Majmaah City, Saudi Arabia. Adv Hum Biol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Oct 25];11:239-44. Available from: https://www.aihbonline.com/text.asp?2021/11/3/239/325575




  Introduction Top


Coronaviruses are a series of viruses that are responsible for several symptoms including severe acute respiratory syndrome, common cold and Middle East respiratory syndrome. A new coronavirus, later named as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), was recently responsible for an outbreak that occurred in Wuhan, China. The virus-induced disease was called coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), which was later declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation in March 2020.[1] As of October 2020, more than 40.3 million confirmed cases and 1.1 million related deaths were caused by SARS-CoV-2.[2] Several countries have documented extremely high COVID-19 cases, including the USA, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain, China, Turkey and Iran, stressing the rapid dissemination and high transmissibility of the virus in new regions.[3]

At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in Saudi Arabia, the majority of cases tend to be in travellers returning and their immediate contacts.[4] Despite the lower number of cases detected at the beginning of the crisis, Saudi Arabia's government took a series of bold decisions which included closing down unnecessary shops, hampering people gathering, closing parks and even temporarily stopping weddings, all for the common benefit. The government has also advised its citizens on self-quarantine and told them to use gloves and masks if they go out. However, several people showed a lack of knowledge about how to properly wear masks and even a few disobeyed the instructions for obtaining them. Elderly people and people with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or even diabetes have shown to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 disease complications, so it is essential to emphasise preventive measures, particularly among vulnerable groups.[5]

According to knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) theory, compliance to these control measures is necessary to ensure adherence, which is primarily influenced by resident's KAP towards COVID-19.[6],[7] To facilitate the management of COVID-19 outbreaks in Saudi Arabia, there is an urgent need at this crucial moment to consider the public awareness of COVID-19. Hence, this study was conducted in Majmaah City, Saudi Arabia, to determine citizens' awareness and compliance towards security measures against COVID-19.


  Subjects and Methods Top


A cross-sectional survey study was carried out in different districts of Majmaah city from August 2020 to September 2020. The sample size was calculated to be 502, with confidence level of 95% and response distribution of 70%. Before the questionnaire was distributed among the general population, a pilot study was carried out by administering the questionnaire among 20 residents of Majmaah city randomly as a pilot study. The responses generated from 20 respondents were entered using SPSS version 25 (SPSS Version 25.0. Armonk, Newyork: IBM Corp). The questionnaire was tested for its reliability using Cronbach's alpha and it was found 0.78 which is acceptable. The Majmaah city has an overall population of 80,000 people and was empirically divided into four areas North, South, West and East and approximately 125 responses from each area were collected using simple random sampling. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire for noting compliance towards protective measures. All participants were informed about the nature of the study and given an informed consent form. After the written consent form is read and signed by respondents, they were included in the study. Individuals aged above 18 years were included in the study and respondents.

The self-administered questionnaire has comprised a total of 14 questions, out of which 8 were to evaluate participant's level of awareness and 6 questions were to evaluate their commitment towards precautionary measures against COVID-19. Socio-demographic characteristics such as age, gender, nationality, marital status, occupation and education were also collected. Items related to awareness were categorised into good and bad based on scores obtained from 8 questions. For each correct answer, a score was assigned. If scored >5, it was treated as awareness level to be good and if scored was ≤5 then awareness level was bad. Similarly, items related to commitment were categorised into good and bad based on scores obtained from 6 questions. If scored >3, then commitment level was strong and if the score was ≤3, then commitment level was weak.

Ethical considerations

This research was approved by the ethical review committee of Majmaah University, KSA, vides reference on: MUREC May. 14/COM-2020/30-1.

Statistical analysis

The data were analysed using [email protected] for descriptive analysis by computing frequencies, percentages, means, standard deviation and proportions. Comparison of mean scores between nationalities and genders with regard to the level of commitment and awareness among study participants was done using an independent sample t-test. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


  Results Top


There were 502 people who participated in this study, among them 260 (51.8%) were males and 242 (48.2%) were females. Of the total, Saudi nationals were in majority 462 (92%) as compared to non-Saudi 40 (8%). Participants of 18–21 years of age were 254 (51%), 22–30 years of age were 208 (41.4%), 34 (7%) were 31–40 years of age and only 6 (1.2%) were above 40 years. Most of the participants (75%) had completed their higher education along with the majority of the participants were students, 362 (72%), 78 (16%) were employees, 48 (10%) were unemployed and 14 (3%) were health practitioners [Table 1] and [Figure 1].
Table 1: Sociodemographic characteristics of the study participants

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Figure 1: Gender of respondents, nationality of respondents and education of respondents.

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To understand respondent's awareness about the COVID-19 pandemic, participants were asked a few questions. Majority of participants answered most of the questions correctly. Eighty-two per cent of respondents said it is important to keep a 1-m distance between each other for protection against coronavirus. Forty-eight per cent stated virus can stay alive on surfaces for 24 h and can be infectious, 26% were not aware of this fact and about 8.4% agreed 'virus does not spread on touching contaminated surfaces. Eighty-nine per cent were aware that if they feel symptoms of coronavirus, they will need to call 937 health centres. Eighty-four per cent responded at least 20–40 s is the appropriate time needed to wash hands to prevent coronavirus. Ninety-six per cent of participants replied that the best way to remove masks is to remove them from the back and throw them in a closed container. When asked 'What to do when they cough or sneeze', all the participants replied by saying they ought to cover their mouth and nose with bent elbow or tissue. Majority responded by saying that they need to avoid crowded places for the safety against coronavirus and 74% responded that infected people will show all symptoms such as fever, dry cough, pain, weakness and nasal congestion [Table 2].
Table 2: Awareness of study participants towards precautionary measures against COVID-19

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Data were gathered to understand participants' commitments towards COVID-19 measures. Ninety-three per cent of participants agree that those people whose reckless actions may lead to a greater spread of the virus should be punished. The participants expressed some mixed opinions on imposing 24-h curfew to prevent coronavirus. Approximately 57% stated it is necessary and 32% said it is not necessary and about 11% said they do not know. Eighty-seven per cent of respondents agreed that when they leave home, they will adhere to safety measures and precautions. Sixty five per cent of them claimed that isolating themselves is a good idea if one does not have any signs but believes they are infected with the virus, around 25% think it is a safer idea to have tests done for coronavirus, 8.4% suggested waiting until symptoms occur and 2% didn't know the answer [Table 3].
Table 3: Commitments of study participants towards precautionary measures against COVID-19

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The level of awareness among the participants was measured by eight factors. A score is assigned for every correct answer, so we had a total score of 8. Comparison has been made of average scores between genders and nationalities. The mean scores observed in both the cases (P > 0.05) were not found statistically significant. The overall mean score was 6.68 ± 1.04 [Table 4].
Table 4: Comparison of awareness scores between genders and nationality (out of 8 points)

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Similarly, the level of commitment among the participants was calculated by six factors. Comparison of average scores was done between genders and nationalities. While a small difference was observed in average scores between Saudi and non-Saudi citizens, it was not statistically significant. The total mean score was 4.00 ± 1.13 [Table 5].
Table 5: Comparison of Commitment scores between genders and nationality (Out of 6 points)

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Those participants who scored above 5 out of 8 were classified as having good awareness and those who scored above 3 out of 6 were classified as having strong commitment. It was found that 90% of participants had good awareness and 71% had strong commitments towards COVID19 precautionary measures [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Level of Awareness and commitments towards precautionary measures against COVID-19.

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  Discussion Top


COVID-19 is a relatively new virus with devastating effects since it was first detected in December 2019. Along with its uncertainties, the complexity of this disease makes it necessary for health authorities to plan effective strategies to prepare and manage the public. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to research the population's awareness, behaviours and practices to direct those efforts. 8 The findings of our study highlight the importance of general population awareness and commitment against COVID-19 transmission.

A significant number of study participants (71%) have indicated that they were strongly committed to COVID-19 precautionary measures to raise consciousness among the people about preventing the spread of coronavirus, this represents Saudi MOH's timely organisation of plans even prior to the pandemic. Alongside, most residents agreed that those who are reluctant to take precautionary measures against COVID must be punished. This is perhaps due to the prior experience of Saudi people with 2012 outbreak of MERS.[8] Based on previous experience with MERS, the KSA Ministry of Health had immediately set up several initiatives, launched mobile health applications and call centres and provided the public with information on COVID-19, as well as providing answers to relevant inquiries to improve public awareness and knowledge of relevant precautionary measures.[9]

These approaches have given residents correct information regarding hand washing with soap, the advantages of staying at home, maintaining a safe distance and related preventive measures to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus for the required time.[9] The current evidence shows that the causative COVID-19 virus is spread by respiratory droplets or when contaminated hands touch the mucosa of the mouth, nose or eyes, and can also be transferred by infected hands from one surface to another, facilitating the spread of indirect contact. These facts were found prevalent throughout various studies, showing that due to the lack of effective vaccines or drugs, many preventive steps of social distancing were taken to stop the spread of the pandemic by the health authorities.[10],[11] Moreover, in our study, more than half of the participants reported that it is necessary to impose 24-h curfew to prevent the spread of coronavirus, while 32% did not agree. Along the lines, a study conducted in Saudi Arabia showed that people respected the curfew, chose shopping online rather than in physical stores and practiced social distancing by avoiding public gatherings.[12]

Interestingly, in the current research, the majority of participants reported taking precautions such as avoiding crowded areas, showing high commitment to adhere to safety measures and precautions when leaving home, taking reasonable precautions such as covering the nose and mouth with a bent elbow or using tissue when coughing/sneezing and removing the mask from the back and tossing it in a closed container. This indicates that participants are largely willing to change their behaviour towards the COVID-19 pandemic.[13] The high infectivity rate for SARS-CoV-2 has been established irrespective of the appearance of symptoms that can last up to 14 days.[14] Findings from the current study have shown that 65% of residents say isolating themselves is a good idea even if they do not have any signs but suspect they are infected with the virus, 25% think it is a safer choice to have coronavirus tests done, 8.4% recommend waiting before symptoms occur and 2% did not know the answer. Studies show that even a person with no symptoms can spread COVID-19 with high efficiency, and therefore, ordinary protective measures, such as masks, do not provide adequate security.[15]

The results of the study revealed no substantial differences in levels of awareness and commitment to COVID-19 based on resident gender or nationality. Similar studies have found no major differences in COVID-19 information between males and females.[16] Although there are studies that show a high level of knowledge about COVID-19 prevention measures among women with a secondary or higher education, there are also studies that show a lack of awareness about COVID-19 prevention measures among men with a secondary or higher education. This could be due to the various evaluation instruments used and the time it took to perform the research, as the level of knowledge could grow over time during the pandemic as a result of ongoing government educational campaigns.[17] Memory of past events, as well as social connections to an emerging danger, can influence public conduct, according to the report. Increased awareness may help slow the spread of a disease, for example, by encouraging people to pay more attention to hygiene, wear masks and limit physical communication. It can also make collective reactions easier, such as enforced quarantine measures.[18]

However, there are some limitations of our study. Using an online data collection survey could have excluded some vulnerable populations that could not be reached, and we might have missed some of the target population. The sample size seems to be drawbacks of this study as it is limited to the number of participants from one region and relatively small to generalise this study's results for a wider community, a bigger population-based research is therefore needed.


  Conclusions Top


Admittedly, COVID-19 is a global public health epidemic. Researchers are working diligently to find out about various methods of treatment and vaccination. Social scientists, public health and communication scientists work to detect public awareness, attitudes and practices for COVID-19 to establish cost-effective public health education programmes. The current research showed that most participants in Majmaah city of Saudi Arabia had a positive perception of COVID-19 prevention and control.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Deanship of Scientific Research at Majmaah University for allowing us to conduct this research work. We would also like to extend our thanks and acknowledge the participants of the study for giving consent to participate in the study.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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CDC Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2020, How to Protect Yourself. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 10].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
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