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Social response to early-stage government control measures of Covid-19 in Colombia: population survey, April 8-20 2020

On Monday, March 16, 2020, the government of Colombia announced actions to control Covid-19. These recommendations directly affected the entire population and included: reducing physical contact; reducing mobility and cancelling unnecessary travel; working from home; cancelling mass events; a 14 day at-home isolation period for people who arrived from international trips, or in cases in which someone in the household experienced a high temperature and sustained coughing; as well as increasing the frequency of hand washing and the use of face masks on public transport. In order to understand the public sentiment around these recommendations, Asociación Profamilia developed an online survey through SurveyMonkey®. The survey was completed by 3549 adult people in Colombia (+18 years) between April 8 and April 20, 2020. In this report, we present the results of the survey: • 98% think that the Covid-19 pandemic is a serious problem in Colombia. • 90% are concerned that someone in their family will get Covid-19. • 88% are concerned that someone in their family may have an emergency and not receive medical care. • 46% believe they will likely get infected under the current Colombian government measures. • 92% of adults reported taking at least one of the following measures to protect themselves from the Covid-19 infection: • 85% of senior citizens (60 years and older) voluntarily isolated or complied with government's mandatory isolation measures. • 82% cut down on their mobility (avoided going out, using public transportation, and traveling). • 79% of those showing symptoms voluntarily isolated themselves and complied with government isolation measures. • 78% increased the frequency in which they use disinfectants, alcohol, and sanitizing gel, and how often they wash their hands. • 73% refrained from going out to social events and crowded places. • 70% avoided kissing and shaking hands. • 69% immediately complied with the government's mandatory preventive isolation measures. • 63% avoided using public transportation. • 46% went into self-isolation (voluntary quarantine) before the government decreed it. • 32% started working from home. This study reveals that there are at least three groups of people in the country who are responding to the pandemic and physical distancing measures in different forms: those who resist the situation (34%), those who suffer from it (26%), and those who accept it (40%). In the group of people who are resisting 40% are men; 68% are under 39 years old; 40% have savings and one out ten reported mental health problems; and 64% supported the government measures. In the group of people suffering from the pandemic, 73% are women, 64% are under 29 years old, 55% have an average family income over 2 million pesos COP (roughly 417 GBP), 61% have had some chronic disease or somebody in the family; 73% reported mental problems. This group had the higher support and adherence to the government measures (68%). In the group of people who are adapting to the situation, 76% are women, 43% are over 49 years old, 36% have savings, and 63% have not had chronic illnesses and 73% reported mental problems. This group had the lower support and adherence to the government measures (63%). • 69% complied with government's mandatory preventive isolation measures. This percentage was lower (64%) among young adults (25-29 years old). Overall, 83% are complying with preventive isolation and physical distancing. 77% feel that complying with isolation contributes to stopping Covid-19. • Hygiene practices such as hand washing (78%), avoiding kissing and hand-shaking (70%), as well as using face masks (69%) were perceived as more effective measures to prevent the spread of the virus compared to physical distancing measures like cancelling travelling (46%), avoiding contact with people with fever or respiratory symptoms (43%), and avoiding contact with people who have travelled in the last month (35%). • 80% live in the five cities with the highest spread of Covid-19. o 50% are responsible for the care of a family member; 16% are women heads of household. o 68% mentioned do not have savings. o 25% did not work before Covid-19. • The top three concerns among the respondents were that someone in their family may get infected with Covid-19 (79%), that someone in their family may have an emergency and not receive medical care. (74%) and the fate of the poorest and most vulnerable people (71%). • During quarantine, 75% have experienced issues with their mental health: 54% felt nervous; 52% have felt tired for no reason; 46% felt restless and impatient, and 34% felt anger and rage; 20% have experienced a need for sexual and reproductive health in the last 21 days which has not been met. 17% are concerned about their children's bad behaviour and domestic violence. • 63% get informed about Covid-19 through official websites; 52% have found false information about Covid-19 and the pandemic. 40% have experienced or witnessed jokes about the spread of Covid-19, and 25% have experienced or witnessed discrimination against health care personnel. • 38% believe that the National Government's response to control the virus was clear and consistent and 29% believe that it acted in a timely and swift manner; 46% believe that the Local Government's response was clear and consistent and 42% believe that it acted in a quick and timely manner.

Lead investigator:

Juan Carlos Rivillas-García


Asociación Profamilia

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

Region of data collection:

South America

Country of data collection


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Type of data being collected:

Online survey

Unit of real-time data collection


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