Study Examines Awareness of COVID-19 & Actions Taken to Combat Pandemic in Georgia

Over 90% of Georgians are aware of COVID-19 transmission and follow self-protection measures, a new study says.

A web-briefing was held on Wednesday to present the results of a recent Behaviour Insights Study, done to find out public attitudes in Georgia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study was conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe and UNICEF, in agreement with the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, with support from the European Union.

The study showed rather positive and promising results.

It was conducted in three waves, with one-week intervals, during the period 21 April - 15 May and covered all regions of Georgia except Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The majority of respondents (76-84%) believe that the Government of Georgia has taken adequate measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, ensuring a timely response. Additionally, the trust towards responsible state agencies also proved high.

Over 90% said they are well-aware of COVID-19 symptoms and its transmission. Awareness of self-protection measures was also above 90%, according to the study. And there is something to that – wherever you go in Georgia, in most public places, you’ll see people following the safety measures, wearing masks, and hand-sanitizing. However, many might be doing it just to follow orders, not fully realizing why these steps are necessary. The study also showed this result.

“There are certain gaps in awareness of less common symptoms related to COVID-19: respondents are therefore eager to receive additional information,” reads the study.

Moderate optimism was seen through this study on the population’s view of how they are handling the pandemic: 55% assessed that the probability of being infected by COVID-19 is low.

The representatives of the EU, the WHO, and UNICEF have commented on these results and the importance of the studies like this recent Behaviour Insights Study.

“The study is important not only to understand where the population stands in relation to the crisis, but also to guide us all in our future interventions responding to COVID-19. Such a reality check connecting us with the expectations and perceptions of the population allows the design of the most spot-on responses. With this in mind, the EU will continue to stand by Georgia in fighting the pandemic in the best way possible,” said Catalin Gherman, Deputy Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Georgia.

“WHO has been collaborating with Georgia for many years, and our collaboration intensified during this pandemic,” said Silviu Domente, WHO Representative in Georgia. “This study gives us the most valuable information, which is already being used to shape up on-going and future interventions in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Results are already reflected in the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Strategy, which the Government of Georgia is developing in partnership with WHO and UNICEF to strengthen the country’s preparedness and response capacities for the possible second wave, and the communication materials under production are being adapted, so that they better respond to the population’s needs and expectations.”

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, UNICEF has provided significant support to Georgia to meet immediate emergency needs and strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to this public health emergency,” Dr. Ghassan Khalil, UNICEF Representative in Georgia, noted.

“In partnership with WHO and our donors, UNICEF has supported the NCDC and the Ministry of Health in developing the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Strategy, which will soon be approved by the Ministry of Health. The results of the Behaviour Insights Study have been crucial in this process, and will further be used to shape further assistance and interventions.”

In addition to the above three country-wide rounds, the study focused on the Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe Javakheti regions (due to their ethnic minorities). The results of the regional study will be available for the public soon.

Georgia has so far confirmed 1006 coronavirus cases. Of these, 883 have recovered and 15 have lost their lives. 5640 remain in quarantine and 244 are at different hospitals under medical supervision, according to the government-run webpage

By Nini Dakhundaridze

16 July 2020 17:56