More than 6 in 10 Singaporeans likely to continue good hygiene practice after Covid-19: NTU study

Nearly seven in 10 in the study said they will continue to engage in social distancing and avoid places with large gatherings. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Wearing masks outdoors, using hand sanitisers, avoiding large gatherings and observing safe distancing will continue to be practised by many Singaporeans after Covid-19 is over, according to a nationwide online study by Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Based on the range of questions asked in the survey, more than six in 10 said they are likely to take these precautionary measures and practise good hygiene and habits even when the pandemic is under control.

This was gleaned from the responses of the 1,606 people polled in the study, which was commissioned by the university's Centre for Information Integrity and the Internet (IN-cube).

The average age of the respondents was 40, and about half of them were male.

The poll, carried out from Dec 16 to 31, was part of a larger survey that tracks Singapore residents during Covid-19 to understand the long-term effects of the pandemic on their social behaviour, said Associate Professor Edson Tandoc Jr, director of IN-cube on Tuesday (Jan 26).

IN-cube is a new research centre set up at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information to promote integrity in online spaces.

Nearly seven in 10 in the study said they will continue to engage in social distancing and avoid places with large gatherings, and only three in 10 said they will likely attend mass events such as concerts.

About 64 per cent said they will continue to wear masks when outdoors, nearly 68 per cent said they will consistently use hand sanitiser, and about 62 per cent said they will still use videoconferencing tools for work or study after Covid-19.

Commenting on the survey findings, Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases specialist from Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, commended Singaporeans' willingness to adopt good hygiene habits even after the pandemic as this will reduce the risks of catching influenza and common cold viruses.

"Wearing face masks has dramatically reduced respiratory tract infections and practising good hand hygiene will reduce multidrug-resistant bacteria. I am glad to see these habits often practised in the hospital taken into the community," he said.

"If you feel unwell or cannot afford to fall sick due to work or an exam even after Covid-19, wearing a mask is the best way to look after yourself," he added.

NTU student A. Aravind, 24, said he has been looking forward to the end of Covid-19 but will still willingly wear a face mask after that.

"I think all the good hygiene habits I have been practising will follow me after Covid-19, especially when I feel sick. During the pandemic, I realised using hand sanitiser is quite a manageable way to ensure good hygiene," he said.

Ms Wong Jing Hui, research admin trainee at NTU's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, said she will continue to wear masks when unwell and use hand sanitiser frequently after the pandemic.

"One of the things the pandemic has made known to us is how infectious a cough or sneeze can be. We are also all aware of how much germs there can be on common touch points," she said.

"Knowing this, it will be hard to go back to just walking around without a mask if I am sick, because now I am aware how quickly I can pass my flu to someone else."

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