Survey: Ida-Viru County residents' COVID-19 awareness highest in Estonia

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A coronavirus ward at Narva Hospital in Ida-Viru County. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

The awareness and sense of danger of the residents of Estonia's most eastern county Ida-Viru about the spread of the coronavirus are higher than in the rest of Estonia, a new survey shows.

The sense of danger of the residents of Estonia regarding the spread of the coronavirus has not increased during the last few weeks in Estonia as a whole, according to a survey commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and conducted by pollster Turu-uuringute AS.

Ida-Viru County currently has the highest rate of infection in Estonia at 1021.91 per 100,000 people, in comparison, Harju County's rate is 477.5 per 100,000. There are estimated to be 1372 active cases of the virus and from December 12 the county will see wide-ranging restrictions imposed to try and lower the infection rate. Additional support has been sent to the region and hospitals are asking for volunteer workers.

The exception is Ida-Viru County, where the share of people who consider the situation critical has increased from 65 percent to 70 percent and the share of those who believe that the situation has never been serious has decreased significantly.

Ida-Viru County also has the highest level of awareness of the current measures against the coronavirus compared to other regions.

At the beginning of December, 68 percent of Estonians considered the situation critical. 15 percent believe that the acute crisis is over, but people must remain vigilant, and 1 percent believe that the crisis is completely over.

Altogether 13 percent think the situation has never been critical and the resulting measures have been an overreaction. The highest numbers of people who hold that opinion - 19 percent - are Harju County residents outside Tallinn. In Ida-Viru County, the share of such people has decreased from 16 percent to 9 percent in the last few weeks, while the share of people who consider the situation critical and those who believe that vigilance must be maintained has increased, Karin Reivart, survey manager at Turu-Uuringute AS.

"People's sense of danger in Ida-Viru County has risen to the same level as the rest of Estonia," she said.

Map of Ida-Viru County. Source: Google maps.

Across Estonia, the share of people who consider the situation critical is 73 percent among ethnic Estonians, and 58 percent among Estonians of other nationalities.

Awareness of anti-coronavirus measures has further increased. While in mid-November, 53 percent of the population thought they were well acquainted with the current anti-coronavirus measures, 58 percent now think so, 34 percent think they are generally aware, 3 percent are slightly aware, and 4 percent were not interested in the issue.

Compared to other regions, the rate of being acquainted with the measures is the highest in northeastern Estonia, where 70 percent said so. Altogether 77 percent of the population understand the impact of their behavior on the coronavirus situation in Estonia as a whole, but 17 percent do not admit it. Residents of northeastern Estonia most often sense the impact of their own behavior.

More people wearing masks

Compared to the previous survey, the share of the population wearing a mask has increased significantly again, this time from 62 percent to 84 percent.

"This change is to be expected, given that the wearing of masks is now mandatory. Compared to Estonians, wearing masks is now almost as common among Estonians of other nationalities. 85 percent of Estonians and 82 percent of non-Estonians wear masks," Reivart said. "Staying at home and working from home, if possible, are also seeing a slight upward trend."

The readiness to wear a mask in different places has also increased significantly during the month. For example, 86 percent are now ready to wear a mask in stores, 85 percent in public transport, and 42 percent at work. 93 percent of people are now willing to wear a mask if necessary, and the share of anti-maskers has dropped to 5 percent.

Respondents who do not wear masks most often argued that they believe wearing masks does not help to limit the spread of the virus or protect the wearer's health, and that wearing a mask is inconvenient for them.

When symptoms occur, 75 percent of people would stay at home, and 8 percent of the population would live a normal life while the symptoms are still mild.

Although the impact of the coronavirus on the daily lives of the population has increased, 86 percent of the population is currently optimistic about the future. The result is three percentage points better than in July, when the population was last asked.

According to 40 percent of the population, their or their family's income has decreased due to the effect of the coronavirus, the residents of Ida-Viru County have been most affected by the decrease in income. Altogether 21 percent of all residents say that it is difficult to manage with their current income. In Ida-Viru County, 35 percent of the population is in financial difficulties, whereas for 9 percent the situation is very difficult.

Altogether 55 percent of the population is not aware of the support opportunities and services offered by local governments and 38 percent do not even know where to look for information, if necessary.

In Ida-Viru County, 62 percent are unfamiliar with support opportunities and 52 percent do not know how to search for information about them. And while 68 percent of all residents estimate that they do not need local government assistance, then among Ida-Viru County residents there are more people who need local government assistance - 56 percent believe they do not need assistance.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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