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1-in-5 Canadians believe coronavirus pandemic being blown out of proportion, poll finds

Last Updated Mar 24, 2020 at 8:08 am PDT

(CP file photo)

Leger poll finds 1-in-5 Canadians believe COVID-19 crisis is blown out of proportion

About the same proportion -- 17 per cent -- say they have no plans to socially distance themselves from others

These figures represent a minority, with two-thirds of people planning to self-isolate for two weeks

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Health and government authorities have been stressing for months: this COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis, and drastic action is essential.

But despite everything we’ve seen, some new polling suggests quite a few Canadians don’t think that’s true.

A survey from Leger conducted over the weekend suggests one-in-five say the threat posed by the current pandemic is being at least partly blown out of proportion. About the same proportion — 17 per cent — say they have no plans to socially distance themselves from others.

Among parents, nine per cent of those polled say they are still planning on allowing their kids play outside with other kids.

“What concerns me is that the media is creating this mass panic for people who can’t think for themselves,” one man said on the streets of Toronto.

These figures clearly represent a minority. The survey found about two-thirds are planning to self-isolate for two weeks, keeping contact with others to a strict minimum like many governments are suggesting or ordering.

“All you have to do is look at images coming out of Italy, Spain, France, Germany, right now to tell you this is serious,” one parent said.

Images widely shared online show dense groups of people gathered around the Metro Vancouver area, despite the urging of health professionals to stay home. Mass closures of parks, playgrounds, and public recreation facilities have already been put in place.

On Monday, White Rock city council unanimously voted to close its iconic pier to encourage physical distancing.

“We don’t know where this is going yet, so I’m very much in favour of being safe rather than sorry,” says councillor Christopher Trevelyan. “I’m not going to wave my finger at people. It takes all of us time to adjust to this new reality.”

More than 2,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Canada, and 24 deaths have been linked to the virus.

According to Leger’s findings, people in B.C. were among those most afraid of personally contracting the novel coronavirus of all the provinces, with 61 per cent of respondents stating as such. However, it appears people in the Atlantic were the most generally afraid at 64 per cent.

The survey finds the least amount of support for B.C.’s John Horgan, with the poll finding only 71 per cent of people are satisfied with the measures his government has put in place to deal with the pandemic. Those who were most satisfied with their provincial leader were found in Quebec, where 94 per cent of respondents saying they were satisfied.

The poll of 1,508 randomly recruited Canadians was conducted ahead of the B.C. provincial government’s unveiling of its COVID-19 response measures, which were outlined in more detail on Monday.

Full survey results: