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Title: Contested solidarity and vulnerability in social media-based public responses to COVID-19 policies of mobility restrictions in Singapore: a qualitative analysis of temporal evolution
Authors: Ligo, Val Alvern Cueco 
Chang, Cheng Mun 
Yi, Huso 
Keywords: COVID-19 lockdown
Public health ethics
Public health risk communication
Social vulnerability
Issue Date: 1-Dec-2021
Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd
Citation: Ligo, Val Alvern Cueco, Chang, Cheng Mun, Yi, Huso (2021-12-01). Contested solidarity and vulnerability in social media-based public responses to COVID-19 policies of mobility restrictions in Singapore: a qualitative analysis of temporal evolution. BMC Public Health 21 (1) : 2232. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Rights: Attribution 4.0 International
Abstract: Background: Mobility restriction is the most effective measure to control the spread of infectious disease at its early stage, especially if a cure and vaccine are not available. When control of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) required strong precautionary measures, lockdowns were necessarily implemented in countries around the globe. Public health risk communication about the justification and scope of a lockdown was challenging as it involved a conflict between solidarity and individual liberty and a trade-off between various values across groups with different socioeconomic statuses. In the study, we examined public responses to the government-announced “circuit breaker” (a local term for lockdown) at four-time points in Singapore: (1) entry, (2) extension, (3) exit of lockdown ‘phase 1’ and (4) entry of lockdown ‘phase 2’. Methods: We randomly collected 100 comments from the relevant articles on new organisations’ Facebook and Instagram pages and conducted preliminary coding. Later, additional random 20 comments were collected to check the data saturation. Content analysis was focused on identifying themes that emerged from the responses across the four-time points. Results: At the entry, public support for the lockdown was prevalent; yet most responses were abstract with uncertainty. At six weeks of lockdown, initial public responses with uncertainty turned into salient narratives of their lived experiences and hardship with lockdown and unmasking of societal weaknesses caused by COVID-19. At the entry to phase 2, responses were centred on social-economic impact, disparity, and lockdown burnout with the contested notion of continuing solidarity. A temporal pattern was seen in the rationalisation of the lockdown experience from trust, anxiety, attribution of pandemic and lockdown, blaming of non-compliant behaviours, and confusion. Conclusions: The findings indicated a temporal evolution of public responses from solidarity, attribution of the sustained pandemic, increasing ambiguity towards strong precautionary measures, concerns about economic hardship and mental well-being to worsened social vulnerability, where the government’s restrictive policies were questioned with anxiety and confusion. Public health risk communication in response to COVID-19 should be transparent and address health equity and social justice to enhance individual and collective responsibility in protecting the public from the pandemic. © 2021, The Author(s).
Source Title: BMC Public Health
ISSN: 1471-2458
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-021-12316-0
Rights: Attribution 4.0 International
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