Intriguing survey results on COVID-19 related concerns

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    UNDER quarantine, we depend on online conversations and media reports to find out what’s happening in the world outside our isolated space.

    I’m a bit intrigued by the results of the survey conducted by Gallup International Association with Philippine Survey and Research Center to gauge public sentiments on several issues related to COVID-19 which showed that a high majority of Filipinos are satisfied with the way the Duterte government is handling the crisis although many are experiencing loss or reduced income.

    Filipinos are not among those who are willing to sacrifice their human rights to combat the fast-spreading virus that has infected hundreds of thousands in the country and claimed the lives of over 500.

    Filipinos are also not among those who share the opinion that democracy is not effective in the current crisis.

    The survey conducted between April 3 and 12, 2020 had 17,789 respondents across 18 countries, including the Philippines, in four continents. “The margin of error is between+3-5 percent at 95 percent confidence,” PSRC and Gallup said

    Here are some of the highlights:

    “People in India (91) percent agree that their government is handling the situation well, Malaysia (91 percent up from 77 percent), Austria (86 percent), Pakistan (82 percent) and Philippines (80 percent up from 70 percent) seem to be very satisfied with the way in which their Governments are handling the crisis. There is a significant increase of approval of the implied measures among other countries as well – in Germany 75 percent agree that their government is handling the situation well now against 47 percent few weeks ago. In Bulgaria the share of approval is 77 percent now against 60 percent in March.

    “The highest share of dissatisfaction with the authorities in regard to the COVID-19 situation is registered again in Thailand – 81 percent disagree that their government is doing well with the current situation. Negative sentiment has increased by 5 points within a few weeks. The second place in terms of dissatisfaction remains Japan – 69 percent disagree that the authorities are handling the situation well (increase by 7 points). Public opinion in USA is rather divided – 48 percent are satisfied with the state measures and 48 percent are not.

    “Almost two thirds (63 percent, up from 59 percent) of respondents around the world do not think that the threat of the coronavirus is exaggerated. One third (down from 38 percent) however still believe the opposite. Four percent cannot decide. With a global spread of the virus and corresponding government measures our survey shows that more and more people accept the threat is real.

    “As expected in the USA belief that the threat is real has doubled – 72 percent now, against 36 percent a few weeks ago. The same goes more or less for Thailand (70 percent disagree that the threat is exaggerated, 55 percent before), Switzerland (69 percent now, 41 percent in March), Republic of Korea (83 percent now, 66 percent before), Japan (79 percent now, 54 percent before), India (71 percent now, 43 percent before) and Bulgaria (41 percent now, 27 percent before).

    “The current crisis also has a serious impact on economic life. Right now 36 percent claim that they have lost a serious part of their income (especially in Argentina, Indonesia, Thailand), 28 percent say that they have temporarily stopped working (mostly in India, Malaysia and Philippines), 15 percent worldwide claim to have lost their jobs (Pakistan, Philippines, Malaysia) and 12 percent say that they now work part time.

    “One third, however, says that the crisis has not impacted their lives so far in terms of jobs and income. The largest shares in this regard are registered in Austria, Germany and Japan.

    “The increased threat has impacted our willingness to sacrifice some of our human rights if this helps to prevent the spread of the infection. In March 75 percent of the population surveyed were willing to sacrifice their human rights until the threat from COVID-19 has gone. This share now equals 80 percent.

    “The highest levels of readiness are reported in Pakistan (92 percent), India (91 percent), Thailand (91 percent), but also in Austria (86 percent), Germany (89 percent), Italy (85 percent), Switzerland (86 percent). In Italy, Germany and Bulgaria the share of those who are willing to give up some of their right has marginally decreased within the past few weeks.

    “What about the role of democracy in the crisis? 17 percent share the opinion that democracy is not effective in the current crisis. The highest levels of approval for this provocative statement are registered in Pakistan (49 percent), Malaysia (43 percent) and Russia (32 percent). Yet even here the majority do not share this opinion. In countries including Austria, Argentina, Germany, Switzerland and India more than 90 percent of respondents

    “What comes after the crisis? Public opinion is yet not clear. Forty-one percent of the population in the surveyed countries are expecting the world to return more or less to its pre-crisis state. However, 45 percent think that there will be major change with an almost entirely new world after the coronavirus crisis is over. 14 percent cannot answer.

    “Half of the population of the surveyed countries expect relations between the major world powers to become more cooperative. Twenty-eight percent express the opposite opinion – that relations will become more confrontational. The remaining 22 percent are unsure.”

    Satisfaction of the Duterte government’s handling of the current crisis was also shown in the survey conducted by PUBLiCUS Asia for April 13-18, 2020.

    Publicus said 69.7 percent of 1,000 Metro Manila residents aged 18-70 who participated in the survey said they approve of the manner in which Duterte and the national government are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 15.3 percent of respondents disapprove of the government’s performance, while 15 percent said they neither approve nor disapprove.

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