A survey has revealed that only 3% of the people in Pakistan — a country that has recorded over 100,000 infections — are clear-headed about the pandemic.
A snap poll by Ipsos, a global market research and public opinion specialist released on Tuesday showed public perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours among Pakistanis towards the coronavirus pandemic.
As many as 1,028 people partook in the survey — of which 72% were men and 28% women (68% urban and 32% rural population) — conducted May 19-23.
According to the poll, one in three Pakistanis believed in conspiracy theories related to the coronavirus with 42% terming it a foreign conspiracy, 33% calling it a laboratory-made virus spread in the world on purpose, and 4% having misconceptions that it affects only the people above 55 years of age.
The survey report highlighted that Pakistani women are likely to have three times more clarity than men regarding COVID-19 misconceptions.
The survey revealed six in 10 Pakistanis were not comfortable to allow their children to return to school in the coming weeks.
However, 50% felt comfortable going back to work and 51% believed they would lose their job in the next six months.
Three out of five Pakistanis believe they deserve aid from the government due to COVID-19. The expectations are found more among lower economic class and less educated people, it said.
Three in five Pakistanis believe that the ease in lockdown would lead to a detrimental increase in infections and deaths.
The survey said nearly half of the Pakistanis would hold themselves responsible if the coronavirus situation gets worse after an ease in lockdown, whereas one in four would blame the government.
Ipsos also put forth a few vital damage control recommendations to the concerned policy-makers based on empirical research and holistic analyses.
It called for “an intensive yet uniform, coherent and integrated communication campaign by the federal and all provincial governments as crucial to sensitise all Pakistanis about the fatal nature of this pandemic”.
It said that amid the widespread misconceptions among all Pakistanis regardless of their social classes, literacy levels, and other demographics, it was prudent to develop a well-thought myth-busting strategy, clear messaging, a delivery mechanism, and destination milestones.
Other recommendations included taking the religious community onboard by the governments to win their active support for the spread of “right and factual” messaging about COVID-19.
It pointed out that Twitter enjoyed the least confidence among Pakistanis, hence any communication through this medium to fix misconceptions, was unlikely to pay any dividends adequately.