The Department of Health (DOH) released the result of the COVID-19 Mobile Phone Survey conducted last September 2021.

With the aim to collect real-time data on behavior, exposure, knowledge and perceptions of COVID-19, care, treatment and resource allocation, the survey focused on how Filipinos coped with the spread of COVID-19, and sought to understand people’s attitudes and experiences during the pandemic.

Analyzing the results on the compliance to the minimum public health standards, survey shows that 9 out of 10 reported that they have practiced physical distancing in the recent two weeks prior to survey. Around 8 out of 10 have avoided public transportation, and over three quarters have avoided public places due to COVID-19. Nine out of 10 adults have also reported they wear a face mask or face shield when going out in public. Around three quarters also say they always wash or sanitize their hands after touching objects or surfaces to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Respondents were also asked about their exposure to the disease. The survey showed that 1 in 10 adult Filipinos reported that they had close contact with those suspected of or diagnosed with COVID-19. Overall, 13.1% (approximately one out of 10) adult Filipinos reported that they had been diagnosed with COVID-19, with 6.7% said they received treatment for COVID-19 at a health care center or hospital since the pandemic began.

Moreover, in terms of the consequences of the pandemic in relation to non-communicable disease risk factors, the survey showed that one in five adult Filipinos reported that they needed mental health services because of the pandemic, with a third reporting that they sought and consulted mental services because of COVID-19.

Regarding how COVID-19 has influenced their smoking habits, about 17.3% of the respondents are smokers. Of these, two in 10 (22.7%) smoked more than usual, 4 in 10 (42.3%) smoked less than usual, and one third (35%) reported no change in smoking habits because of the pandemic. On the other hand, among current alcohol users, 4 in 10 (39%) reported that there was no change in their alcohol consumption during the pandemic, half (53.4%) of the current alcohol users reported that they drank less than usual during the pandemic, and approximately 1 in ten (7.5%) drank more than usual during the pandemic.

DOH says that effective and rapid decision-making during the pandemic requires data, not only about infections, but also about human behavior in the Philippines.

“Findings from the COVID-19 Mobile Phone Survey will help provide support to the government’s pandemic response. It will help inform the DOH policies and strategies, especially in communicating behavioral changes, and further improve our COVID-19 response efforts,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.