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Canadians remaining calm about new virus outbreak but global impact has many worried, poll finds

Last Updated Feb 5, 2020 at 6:11 am PST

FILE - People wear masks as a precaution due to the coronavirus outbreak as they wait for the arrivals at the International terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Saturday, January 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Summary

While many are staying calm, a number of Canadians surveyed are worried about the global impact of the new coronavirus

Angus Reid Institute has found about half of Canadians admitted to taking some form of extra care during the outbreak

The research has found three-in-10 people living in Canada are worried they may contract the new virus

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – More and more Canadians are taking precautions as the novel coronavirus continues to spread.

For the most part, people surveyed by the Angus Reid Institute said they were remaining relatively calm, but about half of Canadians admitted to taking some form of extra care, whether that was washing their hands more often or avoiding public places.

When it came to travel, respondents were given a hypothetical scenario and shown a map of affected areas. They were asked whether they would follow through with plans to travel to places impacted by the virus later in the year.

A world map showing the areas affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak. (Courtesy Angus Reid Institute via John Hopkins University)

Angus Reid found close to half — 48 per cent — of people said they would cancel their trip outright, while fewer respondents said they would reconsider it, but not make a decision right away. Only eight per cent said the outbreak wouldn’t impact their decision to travel.

The research has found three-in-10 people living in Canada are worried they may contract the virus, yet almost three-quarters say they feel the threat of it, when it comes to an outbreak in Canada, is largely overblown.

“Three-in-ten say they feel the threat is real and should be taken seriously,” Angus Reid said.

The anxiety felt, however, was greater when Canadians were asked about how concerned they were in a broader sense.

“Four-in-ten (40%) are concerned about the impact the outbreak may have on their community, and three-quarters (76%) are concerned about the impact on the global community, as they watch the death count rise in China,” the findings read.

The novel coronavirus has left more than 500 people — almost all entirely in China — dead and infected thousands of others. There is still no vaccine available for the strain, but health authorities around the world continue to work toward one.

When it comes to confidence in front-line health services, the results of the survey aren’t all positive. More than a third of people polled said they don’t have faith in Canada’s medical system’s ability to handle an outbreak.

Meanwhile, this virus is still getting plenty of attention. It scored as the second highest of any issue ever asked about by the Angus Reid Institute, with just one per cent of respondents having not heard a lot about it.

Canada has confirmed five cases of the virus in recent weeks — two in B.C. and three in Ontario.