MaltaToday survey | Women more worried, more informed than men on coronavirus

Highest concern is among elderly • Gozitans are most relaxed • 52.4% believe country is moderately prepared • Elderly have highest belief country is highly prepared • A third have travel plans disrupted but more are holding on

People feel highly informed about the coronavirus but have a medium level of confidence the country is prepared for the outbreak, a MaltaToday survey shows.

The figures also show that 43% of people are highly worried about the Covid-19 outbreak, while 42.8% are moderately concerned. Women are more worried than men and consequently more informed.

The survey paints a mixed picture of people, who feel well-informed, concerned and absolutely certain the coronavirus will have an impact on the economy.

Malta registered its first case of coronavirus on 7 March and until yesterday had 18 confirmed cases, which were all imported.

The survey was conducted between 3 March and 10 March before the drastic measures to close schools, introduce travel bans and mandatory quarantine were introduced.

Who is worried?

The numbers suggest that women are more worried than men. Almost half of women (49.6%) are highly worried as opposed to men, where the figure drops to 36.4%.

Men are twice as likely as women to register a low level of concern. While 18.9% of men fall in the low category, only 9.6% of women have a low level of concern.

The majority of people between 18 and 65 have a medium level of concern but this shoots up to high among the elderly.

The survey shows that among those aged 65 and over, 57.2% were highly concerned.

Covid-19 has been particularly virulent among the elderly with health authorities advising them to stay indoors as much as possible.

Gozitans appear to be the more relaxed with just over a quarter (26.9%) saying they are highly concerned – the lowest from all regions. The absolute majority of Gozitans (56.4%) have a medium level of concern.

Majority concern about Covid-19 shifts into the highest category in the Northern Harbour (45.4%), the South-East (50.7%) and the Southern Harbour (47.5%).

Is the country prepared?

An absolute majority of 52.4% believe the country is moderately prepared for the coronavirus outbreak, while 31.1% have a higher level of confidence.

Confidence in the country’s preparedness is highest among the elderly.

Only a quarter of people in the 18-35, and 36-50, age brackets believe the country is highly prepared for the coronavirus outbreak, with 25.5% and 24% respectively, showing maximum trust.

The level of confidence grows bigger among those aged 51-65, where 35.8% believe the country is highly prepared. Maximum confidence is highest among the elderly, where 42.7% believe the country is highly prepared.

In all age groups, the majority believe the country is moderately prepared to deal with the outbreak.

The highest level of confidence is expressed by people living in the south east, where 42% believe the country is highly prepared. But the majority of people across all regions believe the country has an average level of preparedness.

The Western region has the largest group of people (20.3%) who believe the country is poorly prepared to deal with the outbreak.

A distinction does crop up depending on political allegiance. Labour Party voters are three times more likely than Nationalists to believe the country is highly prepared for the outbreak (41.3% versus 13.7%). Almost a third of PN voters (31.9%) believe the country has a low level of preparedness as opposed to 10.6% of Labour voters.

How informed do people feel?

Information does not appear to be a problem to most people with 59.3% saying they are highly informed about the coronavirus.

The survey has not tested the quality of information people claim to have but it does indicate a high level of awareness. Only 2.5% admit of being poorly informed on Covid-19.

Women appear to be more attuned with 63.4% claiming to have a high level of information on the virus as opposed to 55.3% of men.

Significantly, only 1% of women say they are poorly informed, while among men the number rises to 4.1%.

People in the older age groups appear to be better informed than anyone else. Among those aged between 51 and 65, 68% say they are highly informed, a figure that jumps up to 73.5% among those aged over 65.

It appears that the constant appeals directed towards elderly people have made them more sensitive to the information overload on Covid-19.

Among those aged between 18 and 35, 51.5% say they are highly informed, a figure that drops to 48.4% among the middle-aged.

In all regions bar the South East an absolute majority of people fall within the highly-informed category.

In the South-East region, 45.2% claim to have a high level of information on the coronavirus, while 51.9% say they are moderately informed.

The highest level of information is registered in the Western region, where 69.8% of people claim they are highly informed.

Will this have an economic impact?

There is no doubt in people’s minds that the coronavirus will hit the economy and this is something they have harboured even before Malta started adopting hard measures.

Most calls for this survey took place before Malta even registered its first case on 7 March. Key measures such as the closure of schools, shutting down of air travel from some countries and mandatory quarantine procedures were all introduced after the survey.

Nonetheless, the numbers show that people have been expecting the coronavirus to have an economic impact with 82.1% believing this to be highly likely.

There is no difference in expectation between women and men, while the working-age population between 36 and 50 holds the strongest belief that Covid-19 will have negative economic consequences. Within this age group, 91.5% believe the virus will have a high impact.

Pensioners (65+), on the other hand are relatively the most optimistic, albeit 74.8% of them still believe that the economic consequences will be high.

The belief that the economy will suffer highly, cuts across all regions and political allegiance, although PN voters are more convinced than PL voters of the negative impact of the coronavirus.

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