Up to 78 per cent of participants in a national survey have said they no longer fear Covid-19 deadliness that much and so are more likely to violate prevention measures.
The study conducted by Whitehead Communications Limited between July 6 and July 15, assessed public opinion and self-reported behaviour concerning key issues related to the impact of Covid-19 in the country.
With 1,353 or 1,182 participants, the researchers reached the respondents through online platforms such as social media and used phone calls to get the data.
The researchers found that Ugandans are not all behaving the same in how seriously they apply government directives such as physical distancing, mask-wearing and handwashing.
“Thirty-five per cent of respondents report being very serious [with following the directives] and 27 per cent are somewhat serious, while 23 per cent are somewhat relaxed and 14 per cent are very relaxed [to follow the directives],” the report partly reads.
“The majority of respondents in Uganda, 78 per cent, fear Covid-19 less in July than they did in March,” the report adds. The cumulative number of cases stands at 1,065.
The study that was conducted majorly among elites, found that 72 per cent of respondents were exposed to news about Covid-19 at least once every day.
At least 75 per cent of respondents approved or strongly approved of the Government’s decision to lockdown the country in March.
“Public opinion on the continuing curfew is mixed, as 41 per cent approve or strongly approve, 50 per cent disapprove or strongly disapprove, and 9 percent are not sure,” the researchers said.
The respondents also said the NSSF (National Social Security Fund), acted with insensitivity to the public needs.
“Sixty-three per cent of respondents disapprove or strongly disapprove of the way that the NSSF handled the Covid-19 crisis,” the report reads.
In May, NSSF members were demanding 20 per cent of their savings to mitigate the effects of Covid-19.
The researchers found that up to 79 per cent of the respondents were economically impacted by the pandemic.
At least a quarter of the study participants confessed that they missed meals with 88 per cent saying they are battling with financial hardships.
More than half (60 per cent), have been forced to use their savings due to economic slowdown.
“Only 21 per cent of respondents reported that their employment situation has not been affected by Covid-19. Nineteen per cent lost their jobs, with job loss reporting slightly higher among women and people living upcountry,” the report reads.
At least a third of the people who participated said their work hours reduced and up to 26 per cent said their pay reduced.
“Twenty-six percent have failed to pay back outstanding loans and 22 percent have taken on more debt. Twelve per cent of respondents have sold assets,” the report reads.
The government placed a ban on public transport on March 25, a move that had significant effects on sectors.
The researchers found huge increases in the number of people riding bicycles and or footing.
“Respondents reported a 187 per cent increase in walking and 175 per cent increase in riding bicycles. Use of boda bodas decreased by 85 per cent between March and July of 2020. Use of taxis (matatus) also dropped by 47 percent,” the report reads.
Up to 64 per cent of respondents disapprove or strongly disapprove of a “scientific election”.
“Fifty two per cent of respondents believe that the next election should be postponed,” the researchers wrote.
The report was done online and using phone calls..
Ms Anne Whitehead, the lead researcher and author, said the survey aimed at providing the needed data for evidence-based policy making.
Dr Misaki Wayengera, the head of scientists advising the government on Covid-19, said although it is natural that “people cannot be restricted forever, the non-compliance to infection prevention measures is a bad blunder.”
“The leadership has had to make many compromises on basis of saving the economy and rebuilding the stability of vulnerable groups,” he said.
, further warning that that in no way should imply that we are out of the woods of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the State Minister for Primary Healthcare, attributed the violations of public health measures to cultural and religious disposition of the populace. “Sometimes we are too hard before understanding our cultural and religious background.
Maybe if it is in other countries, but Africans are not used to that life [being advocated for in the Covid-19 response]” she said. Dr Moriku said the ministry would intensify sensitisation on the importance of stopping cultural and religious beliefs that discourage adherence to measures.