The government's response to the outbreak of the coronavirus has received a generally positive response from the public, according to research by the consultancy firm Market Facts and Opinions (MFO).
The results of the research were released on Tuesday. The report is based on the response to surveys distributed over a two-week period, from April 8-22.
The survey sought to gauge public confidence in the government’s handling the spread of the virus, general knowledge about the virus, trust in various information sources, concern over the effects of the virus, and changes in lifestyle habits since the outbreak.
Responses were obtained from a total of 936 surveys, which were accessed via online links.
The respondents were 50 per cent female and 50 per cent male. Thirty-seven per cent said they were “African,” 24 per cent Indian and 39 per cent mixed.
Their ages ranged from an 18-24 group to 65-plus.
Seventy-one per cent were homeowners.
Thirty-five per cent were in west Trinidad, 25 per cent in south, 24 per cent in the east, 15 per cent in central, and one per cent in Tobago.
Overall support for economic relief
The MFO's findings showed eight in ten people were satisfied with the government's approach to treating with the covid19 outbreak.
In terms of economic and social relief efforts, six in ten people were satisfied, with 43 per cent saying they were satisfied and 16 per cent reporting feeling very satisfied.
In terms of negative responses, a total of 19 per cent felt very dissatisfied with government's financial relief efforts and 22 per cent dissatisfied. They were found to be more likely to have been affected by a loss of earnings as a result of the restrictions implemented.
Eighty per cent are worried about financial difficulties due to the virus, while a similar proportion agree that the economic impact of covid19 will be greater than the outbreak itself
Despite the generally support for government's measures and economic relief efforts, the study also noted that seven in ten people reported a decrease in earnings, with almost half of participants experiencing temporary job loss.
People trust ministry’s information
The majority of participants in the study agreed that information obtained from ministry websites and the daily Ministry of Health media conferences were trustworthy, with six in ten people rating these sources as “very trustworthy,” and approximately forty per cent giving high trustworthiness scores to frontline medical workers.
Local independent media sources were only ranked as “somewhat trustworthy,” with television stations considered the most reliable with 28 per cent support from the sample size.
Newspapers were ranked the second lowest reliable source of information ,with 12 per cent, and social media platforms or blogs the lowest with six per cent.
The study also confirmed that while international media were the most popular source of media consumed – with 60 per cent viewership from participants – there was a lower chance of their being considered reliable compared to local government sources, as only three in ten people regarded international sources as very trustworthy.
Overall eight out of ten participants reported following news programmes on a more frequent basis compared to six months ago, with 75 per cent saying they watched nightly news broadcasts.
On the virus itself, 60 per cent believed a facemask would not offer protection from infection and only 30 felt that it would. However, this was affected by the fact that the government’s messaging on masks changed just before the period of the survey: on April 5, the Ministry of Health began recommending masks, leaving respondents uncertain. .
Almost everyone – 95 per cent – believed the need for physical distancing is not limited to vulnerable members of the population.
Seventy per cent believed the seriousness of the virus has not been exaggerated by the government.
According to the findings the public was generally supportive of the government's measures to contain the spread of the virus through restrictions on travel and outdoor activities, with nine in ten agreeing with the closure of airports and mandatory quarantine efforts.
Adjusting to life during covid19
Almost all participants – 97 per cent – said they had taken additional precautions since the outbreak of the coronavirus to avoid infection or infecting others.
At a post-Cabinet media briefing on April 6 the Prime Minister announced that restaurants would be closed to prevent the spread of the virus.
The research indicated that 70 per cent of people increased preparing meals at home while more reported adjusting to quarantine measures by doing home improvement projects.
Due to limited movement the research also reported a shift towards online entertainment, while online shopping experienced the lowest growth.
Despite this, online banking and payments of bills remained relatively consistent during the pandemic compared to six months ago.
There were also concerns over the long-term effects of the restriction of movement as a result of quarantine measures, as eighty per cent of respondents expressed concern over financial difficulties owing to the virus.