Survey: More Malaysians mentally adapted to live under lockdown by third MCO phase

People walk along Petaling Street on the first day of the conditional movement control order in Kuala Lumpur, May 4, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
People walk along Petaling Street on the first day of the conditional movement control order in Kuala Lumpur, May 4, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Anxiety filled most Malaysian hearts when the government imposed the first two weeks of lockdown to curb Covid-19.

But by the fourth week, more had adapted and began to feel at ease with the restrictions, a survey by market research firm Vase.ai found.

The survey polled over 1,000 Malaysians from various demographics on several issues related to the coronavirus outbreak, with the aim of tracking how the population coped with the movement curbs enforced to mitigate the spread of Sars-CoV-2.

From the 1,100 respondents, 58 per cent said they felt calmer by the third phase of the movement control order (MCO) compared to 50 per cent who said they were anxious by the first two weeks of the lockdown.

But this did little to calm their fears about the deadly coronavirus or the economic fallout it was causing.

Nearly 90 per cent of respondents said they were very worried about Covid-19 while over two-thirds expressed anxiety over the disease’s effect on the economy, with fear of job loss topping the minds of 68 per cent of respondents.

Another 82 per cent also said they were worried about their personal health.

The anxiety has prompted prudence among spenders, according to the survey’s findings.

Vase.ai said in its previous report that a majority of Malaysians were cautious about spending on non-essential goods, preferring to save or limit purchases to just food or household items only.

The same sentiment prevailed even by the third phase of the MCO, although close to a fourth of respondents were still optimistic about investing during the pandemic, with 19 per cent having considered snapping up shares or stocks.

Yet for 36 per cent of respondents, saving up was still preferred.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin effectively ended the partial lockdown on May 4 and began with the gradual reopening of the economy subject to stringent health requirements under a “conditional” MCO.

Most economic sectors, including non-essential services, have since resumed businesses although consumers appear cautious about going out to spend again.

This will likely change in the months to come. Vase.ai survey found a third of Malaysians feel Covid-19 cases will drop to zero by June this year.

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