Around three-quarters of all Maltese are concerned that the coronavirus is going to impact them and deal a financial blow to them and their family, a survey commissioned by Times of Malta has found.

A total of 72% believe a total lockdown would be the correct measure to take, should the government decide to order the public to stay indoors because of large numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Carried out between Tuesday and Friday, the study sought to attain a better understanding of society’s attitudes and perceptions in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The survey, carried out by EMCS Ltd, an advisory and market research firm, was held among 424 individuals. It has a margin of error of +/- 5%.

The public perceives COVID-19 to be a threat to both the country and themselves. A total of 91% indicated the virus would cause a high/very high level of threat to Malta, while 76% said it would pose a threat to them personally. 

A total of 73% said they are concerned the virus is going to financially impact them and their family. Only 7% think the virus will not adversely impact them financially. Half of those that indicated no/low level of threat are not in employment (housemakers/retired/students).

Majority feel the country is well prepared

The majority do not blame the government for the fact the virus has found its way into the country with 59% saying it is impossible to forecast the way the virus is spreading. Almost a quarter feel that such a situation is the result of authorities being slow to react. Overall, 61% of the population believes the country is well prepared for an outbreak.

A review of responses by age illustrates those aged 65 and over had relatively more positive views, with 67% within this cluster (65+) of the opinion that the country is well prepared. Residents from the northern harbour district are most positive with 66% answering in the positive.

Conversely, 53% of the residents of the western district do not think the country is well prepared.

• 76% feel that COVID-19 poses a high/very high threat to them personally. Overall, respondents are thus of the opinion that this outbreak is more of a threat to the nation than to them specifically (when comparing these results with the previous slide).

• Half of those that indicated no/low level of threat are not in employment (housemaker/retired/students)

How many are staying in?

Nearly three-quarters (72%) believe a total lockdown would be the correct measure to take, should the government decide to order the public to stay indoors because of large numbers of COVID-19 cases.

A third of the working population is already working from home

The 25-34 age group are least convinced that a lockdown would be a correct measure with 35% of the opinion that such a stand would be excessive. Significantly, a total of 45% of Gozitans feel that a lockdown would be excessive.

A third of the working population said they are already operating from home, the majority of whom were already adopting a lockdown mode. A review of responses by job classification indicates that those in the upper end of the scale were more inclined to be working from home than other categories.

A third indicated they were not going out and 53% tending to go out just once a day.

This will take months

• Overall, locals are not expecting the situation to end any day soon, with the more optimistic indicating that they expect it to last 2 months or less (28%).

• 45% expect the situation to last 3 to 4 months.

• 26% expect the situation to last 5 months or more.

The Maltese are not expecting the virus crisis to end any day soon, with 71% expecting the situation to last three months or more.

The more optimistic said they expect it to last two months or less (28%). Just less than half – 45% – expect the situation to last three to four months. Just over a quarter expect the situation to last five months or more.

When asked, 54% of those interviewed indicated that the outbreak had instigated them to make a social contribution to help others. ‘Shopping for family member/s’ was the primary task undertaken. The 35-54 age bracket indicated being the cluster most inclined to make a social contribution to help others.

TV (68%) and online (66%) are the main media used by respondents to get information about the virus with TVM being the most sought-after TV station (90%) and Facebook (69%) and Times of Malta (56%) being the most followed online portals for collating information on the topic.

The high percentage attained by Facebook could be of concern in view of the widespread uploading of medical misinformation and fake cures that are posted on the world’s most popular social media platform. Such a stance could undermine governments’ and medical officials’ efforts to provide the public with accurate and timely information about the coronavirus.

The feeling of uncertainty is causing several to be apprehensive. Some of the respondents said that since the virus was new and no one was expecting such adverse effects, they felt that some were acting irresponsibly as they were still in denial.

The restrictions/social distancing was being felt by others, especially those that had relatives at elderly homes/hospital. One particular respondent said his wife was hospitalised with cancer and could not visit her. The couple have no children and they were never separated. To top it all, the respondent said he needed an operation in the coming days.

A number of people that had family members employed at the health department said that they were worried for them.

Further information on EMCS Ltd can be found on www.emcs.com.mt.  

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us