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Fighting against the pandemic in public opinion in Azerbaijan / 2020

30.04.2020

Introduction

According to the studies, pandemics (from Antonin plague to COVID-19) have been observed in different historical periods with dramatic effects on a scale in different directions for humanity. Mostly, pandemics are seen as turning points in history, both nationally and globally. It is also a fact that pandemics remain a serious risk factor for countries today. Socio-economic costs of the process involve socio-psychological shocks and deep economic crises that result from the perceived risk of death for millions of people.

The global pandemic is characterized by significant changes in any given country's anti-crisis strategies. The current situation is accompanied by collective preventive measures of the world community and the emergence of selective preventive policies, though, in essence, the second approach is more widespread. The world has been subjected quickly to unprecedented isolation within national borders. Acting in the context of national interests in the context of a global force majeure situation, Azerbaijan's government's leadership has been adequate. The government started to take some measures before the announcement of COVID-19 as pandemic. The subsequent measures taken by the President to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Azerbaijan are systematic and aimed at improving the security, health, and welfare of Azerbaijani citizens at the heart of all decisions.

The body responsible for the implementation of the action plan against COVID-19 is Task Force, under the Cabinet of Ministers which was established by the President's Decree earlier this year. In fact, Azerbaijan's approach was highlighted by the General Secretary of WHO. At the same time, demonstrating global solidarity, Azerbaijan has signed a donor agreement to provide voluntary financial assistance to the COVID-19 Foundation within the framework of the World Health Organization's strategic training and response plan.

The analytical document “Fighting against the pandemic in public opinion in Azerbaijan” reflects the results of a nationwide sociological survey conducted by the Social Research Center on March 19-28, 2020.

MAIN RESULTS                      

1. The proportion of those not afraid of infection with COVID-19 (53.1%) is almost equal to those who are not afraid (44.9%). 25% of those who are afraid of being infected with COVID-19 feel very scared, while 27.5% feel less afraid.

2. Women are less afraid of contracting the virus than men. People over the age of 51 have a lower level of fear than other age groups.

3. Secondary education graduates (51.2%) feel higher risk of infection than higher education graduates (27.3%).

4. Urban respondents (57.4%) are more afraid of the risk of infection and are generally more sensitive to infection than urban (15.2%) and rural (27.4%) respondents.

5. Personal hygiene is the most widely used protective measure among respondents (92.4%). 77.5% of respondents do not leave house when there is no urgent need, which indicates compliance with the quarantine regime. It should also be noted that women (83.6%) are more sensitive to this issue than men (74.6%) and do not leave the house unless absolutely necessary.

6. 54.5% of respondents eat special food and vegetables more often in order to boost their immune system.

7. While about one-third of respondents (34.8%) wear a mask, only 3.7% disinfect their homes, which is a cause for concern. Women are more prevalent among the people who use protective masks (42.4% of women and 28.8% of men, respectively). The trend in the use of protective masks is characterized by a decrease in the age group over 50. The youth and middle-aged population use protective masks more.

8. Urban residents are more likely than rural population to wear protective masks and visit public spaces often.

9. Young people (16-25 years old) are more likely to go to public spaces (64.4%) than respondents in other age groups are.

10. The time spent by a significant part of respondents (79.7%) outside home has decreased to some extent. This result indicates that the population has joined the homestay campaign to reduce the risk of infection and its spread.

11. 61.1% of the respondents aged 65 and over reported a significant reduction in their time away from home after social isolation.

12. However, for every 5 person (19.2%) there was no change in time, which indicates that a certain part of the population.

13. The majority of respondents (83%) spend their time at home watching local TV channels, while almost three quarters (62.7%) are engaged in household chores. About one in four people (22.7%) value their time through self-study (online courses, etc.) and reading books.

14. Given the large number of viewers of local television channels, it is plausible to say that misinformation about the coronavirus can be prevented by producing more educational videos on TV channels.

15. The majority of those who leave home (86.5%) do so to go to the market. The next primary reasons as to leaving home involve going to the pharmacy (39.4%) and to work (25.8%).

16. Given that one in four people leave home to go to work, one can conclude that with direct financial assistance to a certain part of the population, or the implementation of discounts on their monthly payments (e.g. utility bills, credit bills), one may see a decrease in the number of people leaving home for work.

17. The majority of respondents (66.4%) do not take any non-medical precautions for coronavirus. Thus, the majority of citizens do not panick and do not buy large quantities of food and other products. Also, many people believe that there will be no problem in the sale of important products such as food, hygiene products, and medicines.

18. The survey results suggest that a significant proportion of those who are not afraid of contracting COVID-19 (73.9%) do not need food, hygiene items, or medicines as a precautionary measure.

19. As about half of the respondents (45.9%) did not have a travel plan their trips were not affected by the coronavirus pandemic. However, the travel plans of one in three people (34.1%) were either canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than half of those who postponed their travel plans (58.9%) are urban respondents.

20. Interestingly, 20.1% of respondents did not change their travel plans for the coronavirus pandemic.

21. The absolute majority of respondents (93.9%) consider quarantine very important for the health of the person. In terms of national security and solidarity, the same number of respondents (95.5%) assessed the quarantine as an important measure in terms of protecting others.

22. The majority of respondents (97.5%) will seek medical attention if they or relatives feel symptoms of COVID-19. We can relate this opinion with 2 factors. Firstly, it can be attributed to the government's confidence in the purposeful public policy, in which the health and safety of citizens is a priority. Secondly, based on the opinions of respondents, we can say that the citizens hold high confidence in the services provided to them by the state.

23. A significant proportion of respondents (40.1%) thought that the probability of encountering any problem under possible quarantine conditions was low. However, 31% said that family members would face difficulties, 13.3% consider that quarantine conditions were unsatisfactory and 11.3% said that the risk of infection would increase.

24. About two-thirds of respondents (63.5%) consider the preventive measures implemented by the The Administration of the Regional Medical Divisions to be effective at varying degrees (45.6% "fully effective" and 17.9% "mostly effective"), respectively.

25. A particular concern is that a significant number of respondents (31.1%) found it difficult to answer this question, which may be due to their lack of knowledge of TABIB's activities in this area. Those living in rural areas are more likely to have difficulty responding to this question.

26. While a significant proportion of respondents (85%) consider the pandemic to be a serious threat to the world, the figure for Azerbaijan is 76.1%.

27. In all cases, the results of both local and global sociological surveys suggest that people consider the COVID-19 pandemic as a serious threat in a global and local context.

29. The majority of the population (93%) positively assesses the measures taken by the state in relation to coronavirus and thinks that it is sufficient (79.6% - “very sufficient”, 13.4% - “partially sufficient”). Based on the results, there is social support from citizens for the measures taken.

30. 16.5% of respondents believe that there will be no socio-economic threat from the COVID-19 epidemic. However, 39.6% of the respondents think that the price of consumer goods will increase (potential inflation). 36.2% believe the continuation of the quarantine regime will decrease the income of current workers, while 33.7% will probably have difficulties with credit and rent payments. 15.7% of respondents believe that they and their family members will have salary problems because they work in the private sector.

31. The vast majority of respondents (87.9%) are confident that the government will support them if they encounter any problems with the current situation. Many of them (92.3%) who believe that the measures taken by the state to minimize the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are sufficient that state support will be provided for potential problems.

Methodology of the survey

Selection of respondents

1212 respondents took part in the public opinion poll. The public opinion poll is based on the cluster selection method. In total, 101 clusters were selected randomly at selected addresses across the country. 95% confidence interval and 3% of margin of error was adopted.

The survey was conducted on March 19-28, 2020.

Regions. The survey was conducted in the following economic regions of Azerbaijan; Baku, Absheron, Guba-Khachmaz, Mountainous Shirvan, Sheki-Zagatala, Aran, Ganja-Gazakh, Upper Karabakh, Lankaran. The survey covered the entire country, except for the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and the occupied territories.

Conducting a survey

The survey was conducted via telephone interviews. Employees of the center called the respondents' landline numbers between 12:00 to 21:00 during the day.

Data processing and analysis

Upon completion of the survey, the data collected were analyzed using a special program SPSS - Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. The correlation analysis was utilized to explore statistically significant relationships between the variables. x2 and ANOVA tests were used to compare the variables between different socio-demographic groups.

The structure of the questionnaire

The questionnaire consisted of 15 main and 4 demographic questions. The questions were mainly in the following areas:

- The individual protection measured taken against the COVID-19 epidemic.

- Fear of infection and assessment of quarantine conditions

 (both personal and relatives)

- Attitude to the state policy on combating the COVID-19 pandemic, assessment of the activity of TABIB (The Administration of the Regional Medical Divisions)