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On November 3, 2020 the Manitoba government announced the launch of a comprehensive public engagement strategy. The second week of this engagement strategy focused on checking-in with Manitobans to better understand current feelings towards COVID-19 and its effect on the province and a telephone town hall focused on the design and public health considerations of the Pandemic Response System.
In total 9, 872 people provided feedback through an online COVID-19 Perceptions and Attitudes survey between November 10 and November 13. Overall, respondents reported they are practicing preventative public health measures. However, some respondents report having contacts outside their household and almost half of respondents think it is safe to expand the people they have close contact with beyond their household to family and friends they know and trust. There is general support for COVID-19 vaccination with the majority of respondents indicating they will get vaccinated when a vaccine is approved and widely available in Manitoba. The majority of survey respondents also indicated they will get a flu shot this year, or had already got one.
Respondents reported experiencing stress and fear related to COVID-19. With almost half of all respondents being more afraid of unknowingly spreading the virus to others than being infected themselves. The top sources of stress include personal and family’s health and safety and social isolation. Respondents identified the most trustworthy sources of information about the pandemic to be scientists/scientific journals, public health officials and government websites.
Awareness of the Pandemic Response System is very high with almost all survey respondents being aware. The majority of respondents indicated it is a helpful system to communicate the severity of the pandemic situation to Manitobans. When asked about considerations the province should take when setting levels of risk and restrictions the majority of respondents agree that public health orders should take into consideration the mental health impacts on Manitobans.
The survey asked respondents for open-ended comments related to the current response to COVID-19 in our province. The top three themes emerging from these comments include:
Mental health and well-being - Respondents commented that the long-term effect of these restrictions is deteriorating the mental health and well-being of their loved ones. Responses emphasized that schools must remain open for the well-being of our children.
Economy - There is a general sense of concern about the impact of the current restrictions on the economy in Manitoba. Responses emphasized the challenges small businesses are facing under public health restrictions.
Physical health - Respondents indicated that keeping people healthy should be the top priority, achieved by imposing strict restrictions and enforcement. People expressed the need to keep restrictions in place until we can stop the spread of COVID-19 or a vaccine becomes available.
The results from this week’s survey are available at: