Diaries of a pandemic: the lives of the Portuguese during and after the state of emergency


Remote work is more frequent in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area and health professionals, workers in the primary sector and the least educated are those who work most often away from home. Visits to the home of friends and relatives have doubled and the percentage of people who have daily contact with five or more people outside their household has increased. These are some of the new results released by the study “Diaries of a Pandemic”, which sought, between 23 March and 10 May 2020, to understand how the lives of the Portuguese evolved, during and after the state of national emergency, in the context of the pandemic of COVID-19.

The research, conducted by the Instituto de Saúde Pública da Universidade do Porto (ISPUP) and the Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores, Tecnologia e Ciência (INESC TEC), in partnership with the newspaper PÚBLICO, is inviting citizens to answer a set of questions every day, which aim to help understand the evolution of Portuguese life, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results reported in this new report relate to the period between 23 March and 10 May 2020. A total of 13,517 individuals took part in the study, answering more than 200,000 questionnaires.

Health professionals, primary sector and less educated people worked more outside the home

Between 23 March and 10 May, an increase of nearly 50 per cent in work away from home was observed among employed survey participants.

In-person work was always more frequent among workers in the health sector, the primary sector (which includes activities such as agriculture, animal production and fishing) and the secondary sector (whose professional activities are, for example, linked to manufacturing, construction, gas and water).

According to the report, the percentage of health professionals working away from home increased to 39 per cent in the last week of the state of emergency and to 44 per cent by 10 May.  But it was among workers in the secondary sector that there was the clearest increase in the number of outings: from 21 per cent at the end of March to 36 per cent by May 10.

It was possible to observe that work away from home was always more frequent among people with less education, with an increase in exits from 28% (in the first half of April) to 45% from May 4 to 10.R

Remote work more frequent in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area

Among the employed participants, 53% were teleworking between the 23rd and 29th of March, with a drop to 48% by the 10th of May.

Remote working was more frequent in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area and less common in the Centre region of the country.

This modality of work was most referred to by people aged 60 or over and people with higher education.

The percentage of people who have daily contact with 5 or more people outside their household increased

During the period under analysis, the percentage of people who had daily face-to-face contact with five or more individuals outside their household almost doubled, which may be a reflection of the resumption of professional activity.

These contacts were more frequent among residents in the Centre of Portugal and the Alentejo region and less frequent among those living in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. They were also mentioned more frequently by professionals in the health area and in the primary and secondary sectors and by those with less education (primary education or less).

Visits to friends and family doubled

Visits to the homes of friends and relatives doubled during the period under study. Trips for this purpose were made more frequently by younger people and residents of the North, Centre and Alentejo.

It should be noted that the inhabitants of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area mentioned that they had made more contacts with friends and family members by telephone and via the Internet, as did respondents with a higher level of education.

Daily trips to the supermarkets most reported in the Alentejo and Algarve

Daily trips to the supermarkets decreased in April and increased again in May to similar figures to the end of March.

The inhabitants of the Alentejo and the Algarve were those who most mentioned going to supermarkets, hypermarkets or grocery stores on a daily basis, which may be related to the smaller supply of supermarkets in these regions.

Visits to other types of commercial establishments (excluding supermarkets and pharmacies) doubled between the end of March and 10th May, and were mainly mentioned by men and people aged 60 years or more.

Youngest consider themselves to be at higher than high risk of infection

Of all participants in the ‘Diaries of a Pandemic’ study, 16% considered themselves to be at high or very high risk of infection in the first two weeks of analysis (23 March to 5 April), with the youngest always considered to be at higher risk of infection.

Note that the percentage of people who reported recent contact with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 fell to less than half during the study period.

Keep on participating!

The study “Diaries of a Pandemic” continues to collect information on how the Portuguese act in relation to a set of situations that could influence the course of the pandemic of COVID-19 in Portugal. Every week, new results are released. 

To produce relevant scientific knowledge in this area, we need your collaboration. So please continue to participate by taking 5 to 10 minutes out of your day to answer our survey questions.

If you want to know more about the “Diaries of a Pandemic” study, you can check out the results from the previous weeks here.

Click here to read the news prepared by the PÚBLICO newspaper.

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