About 95% of Omanis are satisfied with the government's response in handling the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as official decisions and procedures issued by the concerned authorities to contain the spread of the pandemic, according to the results of the Omani opinion poll on the effects of COVID-19 pandemic carried out by the NCSI in May 2020.
The NCSI survey results show that the citizens' satisfaction rate with the official data on the pandemic was high, reaching 94%. About 89% of Omanis were interested in following up the official government data on the pandemic.
In a reflection of the great interest of the citizens in following the news on the pandemic in the Sultanate and as an indicator of public confidence in the official data on the pandemic, the survey shows that more than three quarters of Omanis (76%) are very much interested in following the official government data on the pandemic, and 13% were very interested.
Television topped the source of information that citizens rely on for information related to COVID-19, reaching 53.4%, followed by WhatsApp application in second place in terms of its importance, with about 46.4% of individuals depending on WhatsApp (14.7% depending on official accounts of WhatsApp compared to 31.7% on informal accounts and group).
Instagram application came third, with 27.3% of individuals depending on it. About 17.2% depended on the official Instagram pages and 10.1% on the unofficial pages.
The results of the survey indicate that Omani individuals are aware of the most important symptoms of COVID-19 infection, which were announced by the Ministry of Health through its awareness and educational programs since the beginning of the pandemic. About 89% know that the most important symptoms of the virus is high temperature, 64% know that it is dry cough, and 40% know that it is a feeling of shortness of breath or pain in the chest.
The results also point out that 69%, of the individuals know that the exposure to the patient's droplet during sneezing is considered as the most important methods of infection. About 67% know that touching contaminated surfaces and tools is the second infection method, and 24% know that dealing with infected individuals, shaking hands, or sharing things with them leads to spread of infection. These percentages indicate the extent of the individuals' awareness and knowledge on the modes of infection announced by the Ministry of Health through its official channels.
The survey results also show that 83% of respondents believe that the most important ways to prevent the spread of the virus are social distancing and limiting physical contacts with others, while 62% believe in the importance of washing hands and 52% in wearing masks in public places.
About 90% of those surveyed stated that that they and their families were highly committed to take preventive measures, compared to 8% who showed a medium degree of commitment and 1% showing a low rate of commitment.
The survey results also indicate that the largest percentage of Omanis (37%) believe that the repercussions of the pandemic will end within two months (from the date of the interview with them, which was mid-May 2020), while approximately 1 out of 10 (12%) believe that the effects would end within a period of less than one month. Almost a fifth of Omanis (18%) believe that the repercussions of the pandemic will continue for a period of more than 6 months.
Based on the repercussions of the pandemic against those who were surveyed, the percentage of those who were exposed to house quarantine reached 5%, compared to 2% on institutional quarantine, and 93% who were not exposed to any kind of quarantine.
The return from travel was the mean reason for those who were placed on quarantine (71%), followed by contact with an infected person, recording 15%, or those with some symptoms of infection, recording 11%. In addition, a small percentage of 3% were placed on quarantine because the disease had infected them.
The average degree of adherence to isolation measures for those who were exposed to home quarantine is 9.6 points out of a total of 10 points.
As for the psychological impact of the implementation of social distancing, the survey shows that 58% of the surveyed sample stated that due to the implementation of social distancing had a negative psychological effect to a large or very large degree, although 97% believe that the implementation of social distancing is an effective means of non-proliferation of the virus.
About 94.2% of individuals go out of the house for shopping or buying family supplies, which is the most important reason for the spread of the virus. About 34.3% go out owing to healthcare reasons or for buying medicines and 12.4% go for work-related reasons. A small percentage of those surveyed mentioned other necessities, such as visiting relatives or friends, entertainment or sports activities, as the reasons for going out.
About 83% of the surveyed sample stated that they did not have any unmet necessities, while 99% of them did not encounter any problem in terms of the availability of goods since the beginning of the pandemic, compared to only 1% who had a problem related to the non-availability of some commodities, or its availability at higher prices than usual. The most important of these commodities are vegetables, fruits, fish, meat and poultry, gags and sterilizers.
The availability of health services in health centers and government hospitals came in the first place in the evaluation of individuals, with the average score reaching 8.8 points, while the second rank was shared by banking services (which include money transfer, banking services and electronic applications) and the availability of different commodities in the required quality, with an average of 8.7 points for both of them.
On the other hand, education and online studies were about the least provided services in accordance with the individual assessment, with an average of only 6.3 points.
With regard to the economic impact of the pandemic on Omanis, one-fifth of those surveyed (19%) said that they or one of their family members were affected economically in one way or another due to the pandemic, where the reduction of the wages or salary was the most prominent economic impact for the wage earners (40%). The cessation of work or the closure of projects had the greatest impact for business owners or for the self-employed.
The highest economic vulnerabilities were reported in the Governorate of Muscat, by 24%, which is twice the rate of that recorded in the Governorate of Al Batinah South, at 12%.
Three-fifths of those affected economically (58%) call for providing mechanisms to register those affected in order to obtain governmental support, compared to 42% who do not expect issuing of these mechanisms, while 86% of those who expect to provide mechanisms intend to register their names in order to obtain such support if available.
In this context, 87% of those surveyed stated that they were very satisfied or satisfied with the decision to postpone the due installments on some loans, which reflects a large degree of satisfaction with this decision.
As for the impact of the pandemic on the educational process are concerned, the survey results indicate that a third of those surveyed (32%) stated that one of their family members was negatively affected by the pandemic.
Despite the negative effects of the pandemic, half of the Omanis surveyed see that there are positive effects, most notably the harmony in family because of the implementation of the isolation. About 70% feel an increase in family time between household members for long periods, as well as the rationalizing in consumption of resources and increasing savings by 13%. About 8% think that the situation has brought them closer to God through praying and other religion practices, in addition to an increased interest in religious activities as well as other positives impacts.
Moreover, more than half of the Omani people (53%) donated to charity work during the pandemic, 11% of those surveyed received assistance or donations (6% in kinds of product assistance, 2% cash, 3% in kinds of products and cash). About 14% participated in volunteer work during the pandemic, 9% did it individually, and 3% in the form of various trusts and foundations, and 2% did it individually and through institutions. Many individuals expressed their desire to participate in volunteer work, but the implementation of the social distancing and the fear of intercourse were hindrances to that.
More than a third of the respondents (34%) submitted proposals to confront the pandemic and its effects. The most important of these proposals was to impose a curfew or a home quarantine on individuals (60.3%), impose strict procedures and penalties against violators of relevant decisions and procedures (10.8%), and the commitment of individuals to remain in homes and keeping distances (10.2%), in addition to other proposals.