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Storing masks, going out less: Turks take precautions against pandemic

Storing masks, going out less: Turks take precautions against pandemic

Since it invaded Turkey in March, the coronavirus has disrupted the daily lives of millions in the country. Along with government-imposed measures, the public is extremely cautious against the lethal virus.

A survey by Necmettin Erbakan University, in the central Turkish province of Konya, shows people started stockpiling masks and sanitizers and visit restaurants and cafes less frequently. People also avoid taking elevators, the survey shows.

The research, led by professor Bülent Dilmaç from the Psychological Consultancy Department, sought a glimpse into the minds of Turks in their study on social changes amid pandemic.

They interviewed 726 people from 40 provinces in Turkey’s seven regions for the study, which focused on the mental well-being of individuals, obsessive-compulsive behavior and confronting challenges during the outbreak.

About 55.4% of participants said they stocked masks at home as a caution against a shortage. Another 65.8% said they always carried sanitizers with them. An overwhelming 86.9% of participants said they went out less for eating and ordered food less often during the pandemic.

Dilmaç told Demirören News Agency (DHA) Friday that their survey gave insight into people’s fears. “We found out a higher level of fear among those stocking masks. A majority of people also carry sanitizers, even while traveling between cities. About 98.9% of participants say they felt the need to wash their hands and disinfect themselves when they returned home. They believe they are at greater risk and this fear of infection affects their mental wellbeing,” he says.

Some 41% of interviewees started buying more hygiene products and started stockpiling them. “The majority of them developed an aversion to people coughing and sneezing. People’s shopping habits apparently changed in the pandemic, and they prioritized hygiene materials and cleaning products. This stems from their perception of threat. They feel safe the more they use hygiene products,” he said.

People have also developed a fear of elevators. “People believe in a higher infection rate in enclosed, narrow spaces where people come together with little distance between them. About 45.7% of interviewees said they stopped taking elevators. Another 89.9% stopped riding mass transit. They prefer their own vehicles and if the distance is short, they ride a bicycle or go on foot,” Dilmaç says.