Awareness Towards Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) and Its Prevention Methods in Selected Sites in Wolaita Zone, Southern Ethiopia: A Quick, Exploratory, Operational Assessment

Risk Manag Healthc Policy. 2020 Oct 28:13:2301-2308. doi: 10.2147/RMHP.S266292. eCollection 2020.


Background: The novel corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) presents an important and urgent threat to global health and its effect is expected to get even worse in the middle- and low-income countries where the health system is weak and fragile. Timely access to accurate information and public awareness on prevention methods is one of the feasible interventions in these countries. Identifying level of public awareness on disease prevention is important to mitigate the pandemic. The aim of this study was to explore the level of awareness and prevention methods of COVID-19 among residents in Wolaita Zone, Southern Ethiopia.

Methods: A qualitative study using a qualitative descriptive approach was conducted. Community members engaged in different service sectors were selected purposively. A total of 22 in-depth interviews were done. The transcripts were imported into OpenCode version 4.02 software packages. A qualitative thematic analysis approach was used to analyze the data.

Results: The findings revealed that 95.5% of the participants had heard about the disease COVID-19 and realized common modes of transmission. Some participants linked the disease with resentment of God on people or anger of God towards human kind. Importance of consuming hot drinks, ginger or garlic to prevent the disease was reported by participants. Negative attitude towards quarantine and isolation centers and stigmatizing people with a cough were documented in this assessment. Stigma and fear of isolation centers may prevent people from reporting the symptom of the disease and this can create favorable ground for the transmission. Challenges like problem of consistent availability of water supply, affordability of materials used to keep hygiene by rural poor, and keeping physical distancing in different public gathering places were reported.

Conclusion: Concerned bodies need to address gaps in public awareness by providing health education and continuous awareness creation.

Keywords: Awareness of COVID-19; Southern Ethiopia; Wolaita Zone.