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Which countries in Europe have done the best job in handling the virus crisis?

Which country in Europe has been the most accomplished at dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, according to the public? And life in which countries has changed the most? A new international survey sheds some light on how populations across Europe feel.

Which countries in Europe have done the best job in handling the virus crisis?
People wear mask on a metro train in Copenhagen. Some 95 percent of Danes believe their government has done a good job. AFP

The approach to dealing with the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has differed in almost every country and continues to do so.

A new wide-ranging survey from the Pew Research Centre has also revealed that public approval ratings towards government's handling of the crisis also vary widely.

People in Britain were the least impressed with their country’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak with only 46 percent of the British population believing that their country has done a good job in handling the crisis.

That was the lowest score out of 14 countries around the world.

At the other end of the scale were the Danes – 95 percent of whom believed their government did a good job in handling the crisis.

Denmark was one of the first countries in Europe to emerge from lockdown and re-open its schools. And after a summer spike of infections that promoted fears of a second wave the spread of infections was once again rapidly brought under control.

In Sweden, where the government has followed a different and more controversial strategy by opting to avoid lockdowns and rely more on the public to enforce social distancing themselves, some 71 percent of the public believed authorities had done a good job.

That number was well below Germany however where 88 percent of the public believed the government had been up to the task.

In France, where the public is famously critical of its leaders some 59 percent thought President Emmanuel Macron and his government had done a good job handling the outbreak.

That figure was well below the 74 percent of Italians who back the government's handling, despite Italy having Europe's second-highest death toll from the virus.

In Spain, which is now struggling to stem a resurgence of infections, only just over half the public (54 percent) thought leaders had done a good job.

Outside Europe, approval ratings were low in the US (47 percent) but high in Australia (94 percent).

 

Have lives changed?

Members of the public were also asked whether their lives had changed as a result of the outbreak and it was Denmark where the pandemic appeared to have had the least impact on people's lives.

Some 73 percent of Danes say their lives have hardly changed as a result of the outbreak. At the other end of the scale 71 percent of Swedes believed their lives had changed by substantially.

A majority of Italians and Spanish also felt the same whilst most Germans (61 percent) didn't think their lives had changed much.

 

Could European and international cooperation have helped?

One thing that populations around Europe did agree on was that “more international cooperation would have potentially reduced coronavirus fatalities”.

“As confirmed cases of the coronavirus top 20 million globally, many in the countries surveyed say that count could have been minimised through stronger international cooperation. 

“Missed opportunities for cooperation to reduce coronavirus cases are felt especially strongly in Europe, where failure to coordinate the initial response led to sudden and severe outbreaks in Northern Italy and Spain.

“More than half of the people surveyed in seven of the nine European countries studied say that more cooperation would have reduced coronavirus cases.”

However this wasn't the view of Danes, who seem to believe their country was better off handling the crisis independently. 

“78 percent of Danes think the number of coronavirus cases would not have been reduced by international cooperation. A majority in Germany also say that cooperation would not have reduced case numbers,” the study said.

Are countries more divided?

People across each country were also asked whether the pandemic had led to more division but in most places the results were not conclusive.

Except, that is, in Denmark, where 72  percent of the population felt the country was more united than before. A majority of Swedes (58 percent) also held the same view). Respondents in other countries were more divided – apart from the US where 77 percent felt their country was divided.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Covid care for tourists in France

With travel opening up, many people are planning trips to France over the next few months, but the Covid pandemic has not gone away. Here are your questions answered on testing, isolation and medical treatment if you do fall sick while on holiday.

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Covid care for tourists in France

Travel rules

Covid-related travel rules have mostly been relaxed now but you will still need to show proof of being fully vaccinated at the French border. If you are not vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test – find the full breakdown of the rules HERE.

Testing

Once in France if you develop symptoms or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive you will need to get a Covid test.

The good news is that testing is widely available in France, both for residents and tourists.

The easiest way to get a test is head to a pharmacy, most of which offer the rapid-result antigen test on a walk-in basis Tests are available to everyone who wants one, there is no need to fulfill any set criteria.

For full details on how to get a test, and some handy French vocab, click HERE.

The difference for tourists is that you will have to pay for your test, while residents get their costs reimbursed by the French state health system.

In the pharmacy you may be asked for your carte vitale – this is the health card that residents use to claim refunds. As a tourist you won’t have the card – you can still get the test, you will just need to pay for it. Costs vary between pharmacies but are capped at €22 for an antigen test or €54 for a PCR test.

Isolation

If your test is positive you are legally required to isolate, but how long your isolation period is depends on the your vaccination stats – full details HERE.

Treatment

For most fully-vaccinated people without underlying health conditions the symptoms of Covid are fairly mild, but if you do become ill, here’s how to access medical help while in France.

Pharmacy – one of the first things you will notice about France is that pharmacies are everywhere, just look out for the green cross. As well as selling over-the-counter medication, pharmacies all have at least one fully-qualified pharmacist on the staff who can offer medical advice. 

Take advantage of pharmacists – they train for at least six years so they’re very knowledgeable and they’re easy to access by simply walking into the shop. In tourist areas it’s likely that they will speak English. Pharmacists can also signpost you to a nearby doctor if you need extra help.

Doctors – if you need to see a doctor, look out for a médecin généraliste (a GP or family doctor). There is no need to be registered with a doctor, simply call up and ask for an appointment if you need one. If you have a smartphone you can use the medical app Doctolib to find a généraliste in your area who speaks English. You will need to pay for your consultation – €25 is the standard charge and you pay the doctor directly using either cash or a debit card.

You may be able to claim back the cost later on your own health/travel insurance depending on the policy.

Ambulance – if you are very sick or have difficulty breathing you should call an ambulance – the number is 15. All non-residents are entitled to emergency treatment in France, whether or not you have insurance, but if you are admitted or have treatment you may need to pay later.

READ ALSO Emergency in France: Who to call and what to say

Paxlovid – several readers have asked whether the Covid treatment drug Paxlovid is available in France. It was licenced for use in February 2022 and is available on prescription from pharmacies, mainly for people with underlying health conditions or an impaired immune system. You can get a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The drug is reimbursed for French residents, but as a tourist you will have to pay.

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