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63% Sri Lankans don’t think COVID-19 will spread into their area: Vanguard survey

ECONOMYNEXT – Some 63% of Sri Lankans do not think that COVID-19 will spread into their areas, a survey showed.

According to an island-wide survey carried out by Vanguard Survey (Pvt) Ltd across all nine provinces and various demographics between 29 and 31 March, less than 3% consider the novel coronavirus pandemic a serious issue. Despite it being a red zone, 57% in the western province think it will not spread.

“People have treated the lockdown as one of the usual curfews and stocked up their food, medicine and essentials accordingly,” said Vanguard in a report.

“A majority are worried about a long lockdown; it appears they have not understood the seriousness of COVID-19,” it added.

A sample of 2,188 Sri Lankans were surveyed by Vanguard, with the highest concentration of it being in the western province, at 546. The lowest number of people surveyed was in the Uva province, at 120. The sample was 58% male and 42% female, and in terms of income, 39% were middle-income earners.

Except in the eastern province, a majority of those surveyed said they are sufficiently stocked up in food and essentials in the COVID-19 curfew.

Sixty-eight percent of all Sri Lankans said their households were adequately stocked up before curfew.

Some 20% said that despite the curfew, they were able to access food from suppliers, while 4% said they can source food from their home garden and neighbours.

Nine percent said their household does not have adequate access to food.

Sabaragamuwa province showed the highest percentage of households stocked up in food, at 89%, while the northern province had only 45% of it homes stocked up.

With regard to medicine, 33% households island-wide reported being adequately stocked up, while 13% said they were able to access medicine despite the curfew. Some 4% of the households surveyed said friends and relatives had helped them get their necessary medicine, while 17% said their households do no have adequate access to it. Thirty-four percent of the households said they do not need medicine.

The western province reported the highest percentage of households without adequate access to medicine, at 21%.

Fifty-one percent of the households in Sabaragamuwa province said they have no requirement for medicine.

Meanwhile, 57% Sri Lankans said they adequate funds or savings in cash or deposited in their banks. Eight percent said they use credit cards as they did not have cash on them, while 13% said friends or relatives helped them with the necessary funds. Some 12% have borrowed or pawned their valuables to  raise adequate funds, while 10% said they did not have sufficient funds with them.

North central province had the highest percentage of households with sufficient funds, at 78%, while the northen province had the least, at 33%.

Vanguard Surveys reported that though everyone surveyed appeared to be geared for a short-term shutdown, people are worried about a long-term shutdown.

In terms of ability to access cash, only  5% of the surveyed parties said they were not at all worried (20% said they’re not worried, while 40% said they are worried). Thirty-percent said they’re extremely worried about cash. Five percent are not sure.

Meanwhile, 3% are not at all worried about their ability to access essentials if the lockdown continues. Twenty-one percent said they’re not worried, 42% are worried, and 24% are extremely worried. Nine percent said they were unsure.

Access to cash is the key problem for all, said Vanguard.

Some 25% had claimed that they’re not worried about anything.

Twenty-two percent are extremely worried about access to medicine, while 33% are extremely  worried about their ability to retain their income or earn income.

Up to 73% of the people surveyed said they are very satisfied with the way the government has been handling the situation. (Colombo/April4/2020)

Download the full report here: COVID19 Sri Lanka’s Citizen’s Pulse Presentation.pdf.

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