Coronavirus health fears outweigh concern for economy: Global survey, Latest World News - The New Paper

Coronavirus health fears outweigh concern for economy: Global survey

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LONDON : A substantial majority of people around the world want their governments to prioritise saving lives over moves to restart economies which are being hammered by measures aimed at halting the spread of the virus, a global survey found.

The latest findings of the Edelman Trust Barometer, which for two decades has polled tens of thousands of people on their trust in core institutions, challenge the notion that "lockdown fatigue" is rising among populations hit by the pandemic.


Overall, 67 per cent of the 13,200-plus people interviewed between April 15 and April 23 agreed with the statement: "The government's highest priority should be saving as many lives as possible even if it means the economy will recover more slowly."

Just one-third backed the assertion: "It is becoming more important for the government to save jobs and restart the economy than to take every precaution to keep people safe."

The study, produced by US communications company Edelman, was based on fieldwork carried out in Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the US.

Some 76 per cent of Japanese respondents agreed public health should be prioritised over the economy against just 56 per cent in China, where the outbreak was first detected.

China now has only a handful of new cases a day, after imposing a strict lockdown earlier.

In Canada, the UK and France, 70 per cent or more of the respondents were in favour of prioritising health concerns.

The figure was 66 per cent in the US, where anti-lockdown protests in some cases were encouraged by President Donald Trump.

"It's complicated because you have two crises simultaneously - a health crisis and an economic crisis," said Mr Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman.

"But people are saying, 'We've already had six to seven weeks of this (restriction on activity), what's another week or two?'"

Authorities in New Zealand and Vietnam have been praised for early moves to halt the spread while governments in the US, UK, Japan, Russia and elsewhere have faced criticism for a lack of preparedness. - REUTERS