40 per cent of South Africans feel coronavirus ’exaggerated’
Durban - FOUR in 10 South Africans believe the coronavirus threat is exaggerated, according to research released by the University of Johannesburg and the Human Sciences Research Council this week.
The Coronavirus Impact Survey looked at how people were affected by Covid-19 and how their views of it changed over the lockdown levels. It also gauged their perceptions about the economic, social and political impact of Covid-19.
“Four in 10 South Africans (40%) express the view that ‘the threat of coronavirus is exaggerated’ (19% strongly believe this). This is a substantial minority share of the adult public, and has increased by seven percentage points relative to the level 5 period," the report said.
"This is likely to have an impact on adherence to lockdown restrictions in future if left unaddressed. A marginally lower share (33%) disagreed with this perspective, while 27% were either neutral or unsure in response.”
The research also looked at how President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to the pandemic. “An estimated 61% believe that the president is doing a good job in handling the coronavirus outbreak. This has fallen from 85% during Round 1 of our survey during the hard lockdown phase.
"Despite this decline, the percentage providing positive evaluation (61%) exceeds those providing a critical appraisal (13%) by 48 percentage points. So trust is still strongly vested in presidential performance.”
The longitudinal study was conducted in various rounds. The researchers said the first round was from April 13 to May 11, and the second round started in July and would continue until the end of August.
There were 12312 respondents in the first round of the survey and 2569 in the first phase of the second round of interviews. The results in this article are based on the first phase of the second round, which was from July 8 to 17. The interviews were conducted via the Moya Messenger app.
“Results are broadly nationally representative, based on an opt-in sample using cellphones or computers, and weighted by race, education and gender to match Statistics SA’s demographic data,” the researchers said.
Views on how the SAPS and SANDF enforced the lockdown regulations were not favourable. Only 30% of respondents thought the police were doing a good job, and 32% thought the SANDF was doing good work.
Other findings included 70% of the participants saying they would be willing to sacrifice some human rights during the drive to prevent the spread of Covid-19. This was, however, a decrease from 78% during the hard lockdown period. Fifty-six percent of participants said they were willing to forgo their right to go to places of worship, while 52% said they would forgo their right to travel.