SWS: Filipinos more worried about catching COVID-19 than past viruses
Filipinos are more worried about catching COVID-19 than any other virus that has hit the country, a survey showed.
Release / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

SWS: Filipinos more worried about catching COVID-19 than past viruses

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - May 24, 2020 - 6:01pm

MANILA, Philippines — Despite administration claims that the country is winning the war against the global pandemic, Filipinos are generally more afraid of getting and transmitting the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) compared to any other pathogen, a new survey by the Social Weather Stations showed. 

In a mobile survey conducted from May 4-10, the SWS found that 87% of Filipinos are worried that members of their immediate family might catch COVID-19 with 73% listed as "worried a great deal" and 14% "somewhat worried." Only the remaining 13% said that they did not feel that worry. 

These results are higher than those of past surveys on other viruses that hit the country, including Ebola, which 82% of Filipinos reported fear of catching in 2014; Swine Flu at 82% in 2009; Bird Flu at 83% in 2006 and 80% in 2004; and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) at 78% in 2003.

According to SWS, 94% of Filipinos also said they were aware of COVID-19 symptoms, particularly fever and cough.

"Colds is the third most mentioned symptom in Metro Manila (51%), the Visayas (59%) and Mindanao (54%). Difficulty breathing is the third most mentioned in Balance Luzon (48%)," the survey's full findings read. 

It is not clear if awareness of how infected people can be asymptomatic, or show no symptoms, was gauged in the survey, as experts have highlighted that COVID-19 typically takes 14 days to incubate. 

The study surveyed 4,010 Filipinos aged 15 years old and above nationwide via mobile and computer-assisted interviewing and concluded that worry about catching the virus is higher among Filipinos compared to Britons, Australians, and Americans, based on similar surveys conducted in their respective countries.

Less than 300,000 Filipinos have been tested for the virus, government data shows, while the health department has said that thousands who were recorded to be positive carriers of the coronavirus are still being validated due to clerical errors—to which they also attributed the sizable backlog of COVID-19 tests.

RELATED: Duque walks back 'second wave' remark after garnering criticismPalace: Don't say 'mass testing', we can't test everybody

This supposed fear among Filipinos comes in the wake of a Gallup International Association "snap poll"—doubts have since been raised over the credibility of the survey — that said majority of Filipinos believe the government is handling the crisis “well”.

The Palace trumpeted the results shortly after. 

Since the ECQ was implemented on March 17, calls for mass testing and comprehensive contact tracing continue to resound as health authorities continue to wrestle against the new pathogen, which has claimed 868 Filipino lives as of this publishing. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier this week claimed that the country was at once flattening the curve and in the middle of the second wave of cases, both claims he later walked back after drawing criticism in light of the lack of testing efforts needed to reach such a conclusion. 

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As it stands, the Duterte administration’s response to the global pandemic has for the most part seen stories of tangled and delayed action, double standards in law enforcement and incursions on dissent and free speech as some of the country’s most vulnerable strata continue to lag behind, dispirited sans government support.

Regardless, the government earlier this week allowed the general public to begin marching back to work in some industries in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine and general community quarantine, with the chief implementer of the government’s response to the pandemic going as far as saying that the government was "winning" the war against the pandemic.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the Philippines stands at 9,918 as of Sunday.

Following the first full week since the economy was partially re-opened in some parts of the country, the health department on Sunday logged 258 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total case tally to 14,035. 

Academics have cast fear that prematurely forcing an economic revival would lead to as many as 24,000 cases and 1,700 deaths by June. 

RELATED: Premature GCQ in Metro Manila could add 24K cases, 1,700 deaths by June — UP study

If you believe you have come into possible contact with infected patients, you may be directed to the proper office of the Department of Health for advice through the following lines: (632) 8651-7800 local 1149/1150 or (632) 165-364.

You may also opt to call the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine at (02) 8807-2631/ 8807-2632/ 8807-2637. The general public has also been encouraged to forward its concerns to the Health Department's dedicated 24/7 COVID-19 hotlines (02) 894-COVID and 1555 (free for all subscribers).

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