As health officials issue pleas to the public to avoid gatherings and stick close to home to curb the spread of COVID-19, at least three-in-ten Canadians still aren’t getting the message.
While more than seven-in-ten Canadians are resigned to a worsening situation on account of the ongoing pandemic, some believe specific activities that could spread the virus are still sensible at this time, according to a Research Co. poll.
As of Saturday, March 21, there were 1,331 confirmed cases in Canada and 19 deaths. Roughly 72 per cent of poll respondents said the worst is “definitely” or “probably” still on its way.
Over the past two weeks, health authorities and governments of all levels have urged Canadians to abide by social distancing guidelines and increase the physical space between people to avoid spreading the illness – of at least two metres.
Other recommendations include working from home if possible, staying home when feeling sick and avoiding in-person visits to loved ones, especially the elderly or those who are immunocompromised and run a greater risk off seeing adverse effects from the disease.
But despite the repeated advice, more than one-in-five respondents said they believe visiting elderly relatives, such as parents or grandparents, is “reasonable” at this time—including 28 per cent of those aged 18-to-34, 26 per cent of men and 27 per cent of Ontarians.
Three-in-ten Canadians think it is “reasonable” to hold a gathering of 10 people or fewer at this time.
“Toronto’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, stated on March 18 that having people over for dinner or coffee is not social distancing,” said Mario Canseco, President of Research Co., in a news release on Saturday, March 21.
Yet 41 per cent of respondents aged 18-to-34, 38 per cent of those polled from Alberta and 34 per cent of male respodents believe this is reasonable behaviour.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has recommended people spend time with only their immediate family or those they live with and avoid crowds in public. B.C. has banned gatherings larger than 50, while also closing restaurants to dine-in guests and banning bars and nightclubs from operating.
Across the country, 82 per cent referred to the COVID-19 outbreak as a “major crisis”, including 85 per cent of women, 85 per cent of Quebecers and 92 per cent of respondents from Atlantic Canada.
Meanwhile, 13 per cent said they believe the outbreak represents a “minor crisis”, while only 3 per cent said believe it is “not a crisis at all.”