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Survey reveals people think stronger relationships between people in communities will be a positive long-term impact of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions

Written by on 5th June 2020

Nearly nine in 10 people (87 per cent) think stronger relationships between people in communities will be a positive long-term impact of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, according to the national engagement survey conducted by Public Health Wales.

Other potential positive long-term outcomes include people keeping in touch more with family and friends (88 per cent of people agreed), and people having a better work life balance (64 per cent agreed). The same proportion (64 per cent) think less travel resulting in less pollution may also be long-term benefit.

However, the report also highlights some of the impacts Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on people accessing their normal medical services. The report states that 12 per cent of people report not attempting to get medical attention such as visiting a General Practice (GP) or going to Accident and Emergency (A&E) when they normally would have done.

Furthermore, more than a quarter of participants (27 per cent) say they have had a scheduled medical appointment or procedure cancelled due to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Levels are much higher in older age groups (41 per cent in those 75+ years).

Each week Public Health Wales is conducting interviews with hundreds of people aged 18 or over across Wales, to understand how Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the measures being used to prevent its spread are affecting the physical, mental and social wellbeing of people in Wales.

This week, (25 -31 May) the proportion of people worrying ‘a lot’ about losing someone they love to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has fallen to 52 per cent. In previous weeks, this figure has regularly been above 60 per cent. The survey also shows that the proportion of people who think that the restrictions in place to manage Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) are ‘about right,’ remains high at 75 per cent.

Findings from the latest report also look at how Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting people within each health board area across Wales.

The findings show that the views and experiences of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the restrictions are largely similar across Wales, with more than 80 per cent of people in all health boards feeling confident that the NHS could adequately care for them if they became ill with Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The report does show some differences between health boards in the proportion of participants that think they have had Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) ranging from 8 per cent in Powys to 15 per cent in Cwm Taf Morgannwg.

Professor Mark Bellis, Director of Policy and International Health at Public Health Wales said: “Despite all of the difficulties created by Coronavirus it is encouraging that so many people are still seeing potential benefits that might come out of these challenging times.

“People across Wales have responded to Coronavirus restrictions by checking in more with friends, relatives and neighbours and most believe these will be changes that last even after the restrictions have ended.

Nearly two thirds of people think that we may emerge from the pandemic with a better work life balance and a better environment through reducing pollution relating to travel. 

In this report, we have also been able to look at different parts of Wales to see whether people’s behaviours and concerns differ depending on where they live. Confidence in the NHS and positive attitudes towards both how the Welsh Government and how police are handling this crisis is high in all regions and this is a testament to the dedication and hard work of public services throughout the country.”

The survey is part of a raft of measures being implemented by Public Health Wales to support public health and wellbeing through Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Other measures implemented have also included the launch of Public Health Wales’ ‘How are you doing?’ wellbeing campaign, created to support the people of Wales to look after their wellbeing and to ensure public health is protected during the isolation period.

As part of the campaign, Public Health Wales has launched a new microsite which hosts a wealth of information offering practical support for people as well as useful links to charities and support groups for people who are feeling overwhelmed by the current situation.

The full reports will be on the Public Health Wales website today.