Many Filipinos fail to abide by physical distancing protocols: OCTA survey

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 09 2021 05:50 PM | Updated as of Mar 09 2021 07:52 PM

Devotees fail to practice physical distancing after a holy mass on the feast day of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila on January 9, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - While a sweeping majority or over 90 percent of Filipinos wear their face masks and clean their hands to fight COVID-19, only nearly half avoid sick people or going to crowded places, a poll by the OCTA Research showed Tuesday.

The independent research unit's "Tugon ng Masa," a non-commissioned national survey conducted from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1. this year, showed that 91 percent of Filipinos were able to wear face masks, while 90 percent said they practice cleaning their hands by hand washing or by using alcohol disinfectant.

Wearing face masks was prevalent in respondents based in Metro Manila, where 95 percent answered in the affirmative. This was followed by those in Visayas and Mindanao who said they practice the minimum health protocol, with 93 and 92 percent, respectively. 

Measures taken to avoid the spread of COVID-19

The practice is observed lowest among the respondents in Balance Luzon with 87 percent. 

In terms of frequency of use, the survey showed that 89 percent of Filipinos "always" wear their masks when going outside their homes. 

The poll, meanwhile, revealed that only 64 percent said they always wear face shields while they were in public places. 

Frequency of doing activity to avoid the spread of COVID-19

The practice is prevalent in Metro Manila with 86 percent, followed by Mindanao with 84 percent, Balance Luzon with 82 percent, and Visayas with 75 percent, according to the survey's results. 

Some 67 percent pointed out that they were able to practice physical distancing. 

"Physical and social distancing, and staying at home are practiced more in the National Capital Region compared to the other areas," the researchers noted. 

A total of 82 percent in Metro Manila said they observe physical distancing, which scientists earlier reiterated as key in preventing the virus' spread in public places, but this dropped to 68 percent when the researchers asked if they "always" observe said protocol when they are in public areas. 

Breakdown of the respondents' answers also showed that practicing physical distancing fell to 67 percent in Mindanao and 64 percent in Balance Luzon. The Visayas, meanwhile, recorded the lowest number of respondents who claimed to observe such health measure with only 62 percent. 

The poll was released as the health department continues to record an uptick in COVID-19 infections since early March, with new cases peaking at over 3,000 in the past 3-straight days. 

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said it was the Filipinos' failure to follow minimum standard health measures that contributed to the recent increase in COVID-19 case

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AVOIDING CROWDED PLACES, SICK PEOPLE

The OCTA group's survey, however, showed that some 43 percent of their 1,200 respondents avoid going to crowded places. 

Almost a half or 49 percent of the respondents in Metro Manila said they observe the health measure. This fell by 41 percent in Balance Luzon but increased to 42 percent and 43 percent in Visayas and Mindanao, respectively. 

On the other hand, only 41 percent said they have avoided sick people in the middle of the pandemic. 

Breaking down the respondents' answers, the survey showed that only 31 percent in Metro Manila steered clear of people who were ill, but nearly a half or 47 percent in Balance Luzon, 37 percent in Visayas, and 38 percent in Mindanao follow the protocol. 

Only 79 percent also said they "always" cover their nose and mouths when coughing. 

According to the researchers, the survey used a "multistage probability sample" through face-to-face interviews with adult respondents aged 18 above. 

The poll has a sampling design which permitted a 95 percent confidence level with a ±3% margin of error, the OCTA Group said. 

The Philippines, which is battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia, breached the 600,000-mark in terms of total cases on Tuesday. 

The country has been slower than some of its neighbors in rolling out vaccines after supply shortages hobbled government efforts to secure millions of doses to inoculate 70 million of its 108 million people this year in a bid to achieve herd immunity. 

- With a report from Reuters.