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An international team, led by Phaik Yeong Cheah, conducted an anonymous online survey from May-June 2020, asking 5,058 people in Thailand, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Italy and Slovenia to share their experiences. Anne Osterrieder and colleagues report the unequal impacts of public health measures, and the prevalence of ‘fake news’.

Photo of a busy desk, with a laptop and a mask © Supa-at Asarath

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 our lives changed dramatically, as governments implemented various public health measures to curb the spread of the virus. But what were the impacts of those restrictions on different social groups, and how did people receive information about COVID-19?

Between May-June 2020, in the first wave of the pandemic, the mixed-methods SEBCOV study asked people in Thailand, Malaysia, UK, Italy and Slovenia to share their experiences. Over 5,000 respondents completed our anonymous online survey. Now published in BMJ Open, SEBCOV’s data showed that COVID-19 and public health measures affected people from different countries and social groups unequally.

For example, those with lower education levels, people under 24 and over 65 years old, or those living with children under 18 reported more adverse economic impacts. Among the five countries, Thai respondents appeared to have been most affected economically, with Slovenian respondents least affected.

Many respondents reported seeing ‘fake news’, and the proportion varied between countries, with education level, and self-reported levels of understanding of COVID-19. Understanding the factors associated with these impacts can help to inform future public health interventions and mitigate their negative consequences.

Anne Osterrieder and Phaik Yeong Cheah, on behalf of the SEBCOV team.

Read the publication: Economic and social impacts of COVID-19 and public health measures: results from an anonymous online survey in Thailand, Malaysia, the UK, Italy and Slovenia, on the BMJ Open website

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