ISLAMABAD: As many as 88 percent Pakistanis are aware of what COVID-19 is, a 19 percent increase since February, according to a new Ipsos poll. The poll was conducted in first week of April, from 1,000+ adult Pakistanis representing all urban and rural areas of Pakistan:
The survey found that people have increased precautionary measures to minimise risk of infection. From 47 percent in February, the percentage of Pakistanis who wash hands and coming home has increased to 89 percent. However, still a one-third have not stopped shaking hands/physical contact with others.
Near universal (88 percent) knowledge of Pakistanis on this pandemic could primarily be attributed to local media and some private sector companies like Jazz, Unilever and others. Meagre 5 percent recalled any government message.
The perception of corona virus being a threat to Pakistan has increased significantly within seven weeks, from only 36 percent to 83 percent. However, same threat to peoples’ own lives, families, and community, remains as low as about 50 percent. This projection gap from ‘self’ to ‘nation’ needs to be addressed.
Only 2 in 5 (38 percent) Pakistanis can correctly recall the official helpline for COVID-19, rest are either unaware or cannot recall correctly.
3 in 5 (61 percent) Pakistanis are unaware of any welfare organisation doing relief work for COVID-19 affected families. Among those who know, Edhi Foundation (20 percent) and Al-Khidmat Foundation (14 percent) are the most known.
Despite ample media coverage, 2 in 5 Pakistanis are still unaware of the Tiger Force being set up by PM Imran Khan. 43 percent Pakistanis think utilising local governments would have been a better idea instead of making a new Tiger Force.
According to the poll, majority of Pakistanis (56 percent) believe that mosques (and other religious places) should be made centres of relief distribution during COVID-19 crisis. This view is held even more strongly in KP, Balochistan and AJK/GB.
Majority of Pakistanis have religious and scientific misconceptions related to COVID-19, such as: “They can remain protected from the virus if they make wudu (ablution) five times a day (82 percent), taking steam regularly will help them stay safe (67 percent), congregation prayer cannot become a source of infection (67 percent) etc.”
Unfortunately, 2 in 5 Pakistanis associate COVID-19 with certain sects (43 percent)/communities (30 percent) and have developed conspiracy theories (43 percent) with the outbreak
The poll said the people belonging to KP are more prone to agreeing with religious misconceptions. YouTube also seems to have played a role in disseminating religious misconceptions.
Ipsos in Pakistan has been closely monitoring COVID-19 awareness and implications since early February. Last month, it released this ever first social media analytics report in Pakistan to media and clients.