The conclusions are from the results of a study launched by the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation (FFMS), with the objective of measuring the main impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy, society, democratic institutions and international politics.
According to the results of the first round of surveys, carried out between 16 March and 20 May, three-quarters of respondents consider themselves to be at least satisfied with the measures taken by the Government in the context of combating the pandemic.
Among the measures that deserve better evaluation, respondents point to restrictions on movement and activity in the second lockdown, the use of distance learning again in February, the request for medical help to other countries, the policy of scientific advice and the plan for vaccination against Covid-19, unlike the measures implemented during Christmas and New Year, considered positive by only 25 percent of respondents.
In addition, most respondents (60 percent) said they trust the government, a number that increases to 81 percent when talking about the National Health Service (SNS) and to 85 percent regarding the President of the Republic.
The Ministry of Health, on the other hand, was considered the state agency that showed the most positive results, but the majority (72 percent) agrees that the experts should be the ones who make the decisions about fighting SARS-CoV-2.
On the other hand, the results also reveal the negative effects of more than a year with restrictive measures, in economic, social and mental health.
“In terms of mental health, and although it is not yet possible with the present data to estimate a specific pattern of change, we can conclude that there was a negative impact”, the report reads.
For example, six out of 20 respondents felt alone during the past year, and compared to the pre-pandemic period, the percentage of people who felt their life was close to what they idealised rose from 71 percent to 22 percent in first lockdown, rising slightly to 30 percent in the second.
“The data allow us to verify that social isolation significantly predicts the reported losses in individual well-being, with feelings of loneliness being particularly harmful”, the document adds.
At the level of work, 38 percent of the interviewees admitted to a feeling of job insecurity and almost 20 percent assume that it was necessary to resort to savings or to take out credits to cover current expenses.
Two in ten respondents reported that they, or a member of their household, became unemployed during the pandemic and 34 percent said their household income had declined in the past year and a half.
These conclusions seem to make sense, when compared with another data, according to which just over half of the respondents agree that, in combating a pandemic, it is more important to prioritize public health, to the detriment of economic activity and employment, while 23 percent advocate the opposite.
On the other hand, the vast majority (86 percent) admit that limitations on public freedom were justified, but 43 percent of respondents believe that democracy was weakened during the pandemic period.
The study also analyzes the perception of the Portuguese regarding international politics and, according to the results, the respondents seem to blame China (53 percent) in a negative way in terms of origin or management of the pandemic, in 20 percent of the responses, as one of the countries that contributed to greater collective coordination of efforts.
Regarding international institutions, the majority (63 percent) point to the World Health Organization (WHO) as the main organization, but only 15 percent value the role of the European Union (EU).
Three samples of approximately 1,150 participants each were collected and the project is coordinated by Carlos Jalali, from the University of Aveiro, who took over after the death of Nuno Monteiro, from Yale University, in May.