(NW) Almost Half of Bulgarians Believe COVID-19 Has Changed General Way of Life – Opinion Poll

February 18 (BTA) – Almost one year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, close to half of Bulgarians believe it has changed not only separate aspects of their everyday lives, but their general way of life, show the results of a nationally representative survey conducted by Alpha Research among 1,007 adults between February 8 and 15. After almost ten months of various degrees of social isolation, over a third of respondents said they feel psychological and emotional discomfort due to the limited contacts with their friends and families, fear of the virus, and the serious transformations in their usual way of life and work. A significant share of respondents note very specific changes, some of which could continue into the future. A total of 17.2 per cent have gone more digital, while 13.6 per cent of households report a member that has started working from home. Loss of income due to the pandemic is reported by 12.4 per cent of households. Also, 4.5 per cent of households have someone that was forced to stay home because of their children’s online schooling, and the same percentage of households report that a close relative has returned from abroad. One in six families have suffered direct health consequences of the pandemic – 15.9 per cent claim that someone in their closest circle has contracted COVID-19. A quarter of Bulgarians, mainly residents of rural areas and people of a lower status and fewer social contacts, do not believe the pandemic has caused any significant changes. One of the areas that underwent the biggest change was education and 61.1 per cent of respondents approve of the gradual returning to class of higher-grade students on a rotational basis. The share of parents of students who support this move is even larger at 78 per cent. In-person classes for grades one to four is approved by 67.4 per cent of respondents. The majority of Bulgarians do not believe that the vaccination campaign was launched convincingly, the survey found. Only 1.5 per cent of respondents said they have received at least one vaccine dose, while the share of those wishing to get vaccinated fast is just 10 per cent, which is 4 per cent less than in December. Given that 10 per cent translates into roughly 500,000 people, it is obvious that both the communication and organizational strategy of the vaccination campaign need to be improved significantly. According to the survey data, 51.9 per cent of respondents are not planning to get vaccinated, while 36.8 per cent are vaccine hesitant and their decision will depend precisely on how this campaign unfolds. RI/MY DD //