Poll shows no Corona panic among Greeks
We are all in it. 185 countries are victims of the so called “invisible deadly enemy”. We have been all, more or less, asked to do the minimum: stay at home and wash our hands. Which, in theory, we have been doing since our mothers first asked us to do so.
Yet, we are not all the same. We do not react the same way when someone, whether this is your mother or the state orders you to do something “for your own good!” Some of us obey, some don’t. Some of us take it as it is and believe in it, some of us prefer to seek for alternative explanations, become conspiratorial, blame everything and everyone else but the actual “Covid-19”, but eventually we bow to the order; albeit with a delay which works at our expense. Leaders, included.
So, it was a welcome surprise when I received the other day, a yet unpublished report on the social behaviour of the Greeks “in the era of Covid-19”. This research -the first of its kind in this country- was conducted by a well-known social research company which interviewed 1.603 men and women over 17 years old. The interviews were both by phone and face to face, between 26 and 28 of March, in other words, at the beginning of the pandemic. It is an interesting picture of how the society reacted to an unknown disease potentially lethal that could affect everybody. It shows how people decide to resist the reality and how they think that the virus is not going to hit them.
Starting with the awareness of the disease, when asked how much informed they were about the Covid-19, a high percentage (67 percent) of the participants, answered that they were “very well informed” and a similar high percentage said that they were well informed about “the ways the virus is transmitted”, also, “who are the vulnerable groups in the society” and “what are the main symptoms of the disease”.
Going further, when asked where did they get their information about the disease, most of them (66 percent) answered “from TV”, although very close to it, came the “Daily briefing by the Head Scientist of the Greek Ministry of Health” (63 percent), followed by “Social Media” and “Websites”. The percentage drops steeply, under 8 percent, where only few reply that they got their information from their friends and relatives, from their family doctor or from the radio.
With such a sudden shock to the life of everyone, it is not surprising that a high percentage (63 percent) admit that Covid-19 changed their daily life “very much”. However, less than half of the respondents “stayed at home” the previous day. The rest were out from fifteen minutes to ten hours! A similar percentage-less than half of the total- had not met anybody else other than members of their own family during the last three days.
Greeks, I suppose like most people, saw the range of their activities shrink to the bare minimum. The reason that they would go out of the house, would be primarily to replenish their food supplies. So “going to the supermarket for shopping” was the thing that 62 percent of the respondents did during the last three days before their interview; and the next thing (51 percent), was going out with their car. The interesting findings are at the bottom of the table. Nobody (0 percent) went to a social gathering and only (1 percent) went on holidays (even for a few days), took a taxi or went to the church!
With regards to home supplies, things at the beginning of the epidemic looked good. Most households had hand soap, cleaning materials and antiseptics, toilet paper and medicines. Asked about their health, most of them replied “perfect”, and 68 percent of them had none of the corona virus symptoms, i.e. cough, sore throat, fever, difficulty in breathing etc. But when asked whether they would have the diagnostic test for Covid-19, they were reluctant and half of them would take it “only if my doctor told me so”.
Until the 26th of March, only 6 percent of the Greek respondents knew anybody who had been struck by the virus and almost half of them were sure that, in the last three days before the interview, they had had no contact with a Covid-19 symptomatic or asymptomatic victim.
All that was up to the 26th of March. Twenty days later, and after a series of strict measures, Greece is in a relatively good state. Yesterday figures were: 2,192 cases, 102 deaths, 269 patients recovered. The first two cases had appeared on February 27. But the danger remains, they are being told by the protagonist of this medical drama, the Head of the Scientific Committee of the Greek Ministry of Health, a soft-spoken eminent professor of epidemiology who by now has become a household name through his daily briefings. But it is a drama for which we do not yet know the end.