55% of BC residents are now concerned about COVID-19: survey

Mar 11 2020, 1:46 pm

There is now a heightened level of concern amongst British Columbian residents over the growing local spread of COVID-19 and the potential impact to daily life, according to a new survey.

Insights West is reporting that 55% of residents in the province are now concerned about COVID19, with 15% “very” worried” and 40% “somewhat” worried. The representative survey was conducted online over this past weekend.

Moreover, 48% are now following the pandemic “very closely” and 40% are following it “somewhat closely,” while about 10% are not following the developments.

A large number of residents (29%) have reported being sick in recent weeks, and 20% of this group have reported being worried about having coronavirus, while 80% are not worried about it.

“This heightened level of awareness and concern about COVID19 has had a significant effect already on the perceptions, actions and behaviours of BC residents,” said Steve Mossop, president of Insights West, in a statement.

“Overall, citizens are scrambling and making significant changes in their day-to-day lives around cleanliness, activities that involve crowds, and their purchasing behaviours. Most concerning is the high level of worry about the impact on the travel industry, and the Canadian and the global economy. As recent stock market gyrations have indicated, the repercussions could be significant.”

BC residents have also changed their everyday behaviours: 78% indicated they are washing their hands more often, 61% are touching their face less often, 55% are avoiding shaking hands or touching other people, 36% are buying and using hand sanitizer, and 28% are cleaning or disinfecting homes more often. But only 13% are wearing face masks.

As well, 28% are stocking up on home necessities, 24% are eating out at restaurants less often, and 23% are reducing their trips to stores, malls, fitness gyms, and swimming pools. Additionally, 16% are working from home more often, and 12% are cancelling children’s activities.

When it comes to travel, 31% of respondents have delayed a trip they had already planned, and 13% indicate they have cancelled an already booked trip. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (62%) believe the coronavirus will have an impact on their future travel plans.

A majority of respondents (65%) believe COVID-19 will have a negative impact on the global economy, while 50% say it will have a negative impact on the Canadian economy.

Today, the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak an international pandemic. Individuals who are elderly or with a pre-existing health condition are most at risk, according to health officials.

As of the time of writing, there are 99 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Canada, including 39 in BC, where one fatality has been reported. The Government of Canada is establishing a $1-billion response fund to all provinces and territories to help combat the coronavirus.