Serbian Citizens’ Opinion on the COVID-19 Epidemic
Aim: The Centre for International Public Policy has undertaken a public opinion research in which we tested the opinions of the citizens of Serbia on the coronavirus epidemic. The respondents had the opportunity to express their opinion on measures undertaken by the Serbian Government to combat the virus, to state their trust in the media, as well as the health system in general. In addition, we tested the prevalence of different conspiracy theories among citizens, whether the pandemic gave China a new image in the minds of the people and, most importantly, the level of solidarity among Serbian citizens as well as within the European / international community as a whole.
Methods: In seven days, from 8-15th April 2020, we gathered a convenient sample of N=5989 respondents, which makes this the largest public opinion research project in Serbia on the topic of COVID-19 since the start of the epidemic. The electronic questionnaire consisted of 24 questions of mixed and closed type.
Results: The findings of this research suggest that citizens of Serbia are not afraid of COVID-19, but are nevertheless cautious (86%). The percentage of those willing to consult a doctor when they notice any symptoms lies at 70%. Half of the respondents do not believe in alternative theories regarding the origin of the COVID-19 virus. The majority of the respondents (55%) hold government officials accountable for spreading panic through public speeches and daily public addresses. Moreover, 60% of the respondents do not trust the Serbian media outlets that are currently reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, over half of the respondents are prepared to report their neighbour when he or she is coming from abroad and violates the obligation to self-isolate. However, mostly due to the significant fines, 65% of the respondents would not report the elderly when they are breaking the limited-movement restriction measures.
Conclusion: As before the epidemic, opinions of the Serbian population on current topics are somewhat polarized. Although the majority of the respondents are cautious, a significant number also believes in conspiracy theories and does not fully trust the information provided by the media or the government.
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