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Fri, 1 May 2020

10% of Aussies ignoring pandemic control measures

Masked woman
Image: Engin Akyurt

A James Cook University researcher has found nearly 10 per cent of Australians are not taking any measures to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and a quarter of Australians have limited faith in current strategies against the pandemic.

Additionally, the study found more than one in five Australians report the pandemic has had a negative impact on their jobs.

Dr Yetta Gurtner is a lecturer with the Centre for Disaster Studies at JCU. She surveyed nearly a thousand people on their knowledge of and response to the virus, where they got their information from, and how the pandemic has impacted them. While the survey still remains open to the community, preliminary results reveal some interesting trends.

“The survey indicated good general knowledge of pandemics and COVID-19. Most people are able to appreciate this virus is different from a cold or seasonal flu, recognise most common symptoms, and identify people most at risk,” said Dr Gurtner.

But she said the survey also uncovered some worrying facts.

“Disturbingly, from a viral transmission perspective, 8.6 percent of respondents indicated that they are not undertaking any form of voluntary, recommended or mandated control measures to reduce transmission,” she said.

To put this into context, in a city the size of Brisbane the survey results suggest more than 200,000 people would be ignoring the precautions and restrictions.

She said there is also substantial doubt that current strategies are going to work, but most people are trying to adapt and do what they can.

“While 25 per cent of respondents indicated that they were unsure or did not believe current measures and strategies were effective, most felt that it was primarily the responsibility of individuals and households to reduce transmission in the community.”

In terms of direct impacts, Dr Gurtner said more than 20 per cent of people said they had either lost their job, faced a reduction in working hours or a wage cut, or have been forced to take leave or a holiday.

“Less than 1 per cent have found new employment. More than 25% of survey participants said they had no form of relevant insurance - either health, life, income protection and/or mortgage protection,” she said.

Dr Gurtner said almost 80 percent of people got information about the virus from government or other official sources and the mainstream media.

“The dominance of online sources highlights a wider issue of access to information and the increasing potential for marginalisation of people with limited or no internet access,” she said.

The survey is ongoing, if you would like to contribute the link is here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/COVID19PANDEMIC


Dr Yetta Gurtner
E: yetta.gurtner@jcu.edu.au