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Most of the world doesn’t think social distancing will stop coronavirus, Ipsos poll says


At least 50 per cent of people in major countries around the world think that social distancing, travel restrictions and self-isolation will do little to stop the spread of novel coronavirus despite global consensus from health officials touting the opposite, a new Ipsos poll suggests.

Results from nearly 14,000 people surveyed across 14 countries between March 19 and 21 showed majorities in eight countries agreed that social distancing measures — such as travel bans and self-isolation — will not stop the viral outbreak.

In Canada, 59 per cent agreed the social distancing measures put forth by the government would work — a stark contrast to the United States, where 44 per cent of respondents said the measures would prove effective.

Either on an individual or national level, Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos’ Public Affairs, said the results show people are not confident in isolation.

“These findings help to explain why isolation isn’t being obeyed in some countries. We are divided on whether or not it works,” said Bricker.

The poll found 62 per cent of people in Japan and 61 per cent in India disagreed that the government-mandated measures would work. The numbers dip to 59 per cent in Mexico, 56 per cent in Brazil, 55 per cent in Germany and Vietnam and 52 per cent in Australia.

Even in countries once deemed the epicentre of the disease, there was still confusion. Only 61 per cent of those surveyed in China believed social distancing would stop COVID-19, and those numbers were lower in Italy, where only 57 per cent agreed. In France, that number sits at 56 per cent.

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Bricker told Global News this was most likely related to whether the country was a “hot spot” for the virus. When it comes to places like China, “there’s not a lot of belief that isolation or any of these quarantine kind of things are actually going to work that well.”

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“It stands to reason that in other places where people are more concerned about health, that they want more isolation and think it will work,” he said. 

Still, Bricker called the numbers “shockingly low,” and said one of the most surprising things about the poll results was the lack of individual accountability people had for their potential role in spreading the virus.

“People think it’s actually other people doing it, it’s not them doing it,” he said, adding most think “this is something that other people are creating and they’re not really playing a role in it.”


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