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Covid-19: Majority of survey respondents satisfied with pandemic management


Newsroom, 12 Jul 2021 (Lusa) – Most respondents in a study released today expressed satisfaction with the measures adopted by the Government in the last year to combat the covid-19 pandemic, despite the economic and mental health consequences.

The conclusions are inferred from the preliminary results of a study promoted by the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation (FFMS), with the objective of measuring the main impacts of the covid-19 pandemic on the economy, society, democratic institutions and international politics.

According to the results of the first round of surveys, carried out between March 16 and May 20, three-quarters of respondents consider themselves to be at least reasonably satisfied with the measures taken by the Government in the context of combating the pandemic.

Among the measures that deserve better evaluation, respondents point to restrictions on movement and activity in the second confinement, the use of distance learning again in February, the request for medical help to other countries, the policy of scientific advice and the plan for vaccination against covid-19, unlike the measures implemented during Christmas and New Year, considered positive by only 25% of respondents.

In line with this relative satisfaction, most respondents (60%) said they trust the executive, a number that increases to 81% when talking about the National Health Service (SNS) and to 85% regarding the President of the Republic.

The Ministry of Health, on the other hand, was considered the state agency that showed the most positive results, but the majority (72%) agree that the experts should be the ones who make the decisions about fighting SARS-CoV-2.

On the other hand, the results also reveal the negative effects of more than a year with restrictive measures, in economic, social and mental health terms.

“In terms of mental health, and although it is not yet possible with the present data to estimate a specific pattern of change, we can conclude that there was a negative impact”, the report reads.

For example, six out of 20 respondents felt alone during the past year, and compared to the pre-pandemic period, the percentage of people who felt their life was close to what they idealized rose from 71% to 22% in first confinement, rising slightly to 30% in the second.

“The data allow us to verify that social isolation significantly predicts the reported losses in this subjective well-being, with feelings of loneliness being particularly penalizing”, the document adds.

At the level of work, 38% of the interviewees accused a situation of insecurity, reporting spending equivalent to earnings, and almost 20% assume that it has been necessary to resort to savings or incurring debt to cover current expenses.

Two in ten respondents reported that they, or a member of their household, became unemployed during the pandemic and 34% said their household income had declined in the past year and a half.

These conclusions seem to make sense, when compared with another data, according to which just over half of the respondents agree that, in combating a pandemic, it is more important to prioritize public health, to the detriment of economic activity and employment, while 23% advocate the opposite.

On the other hand, the vast majority (86%) admit that limitations on public liberties were completely justified or at least justified to some extent, but 43% of respondents believe that democracy was weakened during the pandemic period.

The study also looks at the perception of the Portuguese regarding international politics and, according to the results, respondents seem to blame, in the negative in terms of the origin or management of the pandemic, China (53%) which is also highlighted, positively, in 20% of responses, as one of the countries that contributed to greater collective coordination of efforts.

Regarding supranational institutions, the majority (63%) point to the World Health Organization (WHO) as the main organization playing a positive role, but only 15% valued the role of the European Union (EU).

“One of the possible reasons for this assessment can be found in the difficulty in coordinating the national responses”, points out the report, which states that just over half of the respondents (57%) considered the option to entrust the European Commission (EC) with the process of purchasing vaccines.

Still regarding the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the economy, the sectors of commerce, industry and transport were the most affected in the second quarter of 2020, followed by agriculture in the following quarter.

On the household side, in terms of consumption, it was in catering, beauty and well-being, travel, culture, clothing and temporary accommodation that most reduced expenses, which increased, on the other hand, in the electricity, gas and water sectors, in online commerce and retail.

The second wave of the FFMS study took place in September and the final results are expected to be published in spring 2022.

Three samples of approximately 1,150 participants each were collected and the project, which has the collaboration of researchers from different universities, is coordinated by Carlos Jalali, from the University of Aveiro, who took over after the death of Nuno Monteiro, from Yale University , in May.