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Older generations are better at following coronavirus measures, survey shows

13:26 25/03/2020
From Flanders Today

A large majority of people who can work from home are doing so under the coronavirus shutdown, and those aged 65 and older are following the regulations much more stringently than the other generations. Those are two findings of a survey carried out by Antwerp University.

Some 560,000 people living in Belgium filled out the online survey last week. The survey is meant to determine how many people are adhering to the government measures to control the spread of the Covid-19.

The survey also questions how people are feeling in general – if they experience anxiety, sleeplessness or other emotions based on being quarantined. And it asks if people have had any symptoms that they may or may not have reported to their doctors.

The survey, which is completely anonymous, was available to fill out one day last week and is available again today. It will be taken offline and returned next Tuesday. Researchers are inviting people to fill it out every week so they can track if attitudes are changing as the weeks wear on.

Findings from the first survey show that 75% of those with children are taking care of them at home and that only 3% found it necessary to pay a visit to their parents. Most people are working from home, and most of those who aren’t admit it would not be possible. Only one in 10 responded that they could work from home but weren’t allowed to by their bosses.

A key question in the survey was when the last time was that the person shook hands or greeted someone with a kiss outside of their home. This date gets further and further away the older the respondents get.

“We clearly see that those aged 65-plus stopped doing this early on, while the younger generations started only when the government implemented the measures on 13 March,” said researcher Philippe Beutels. “This means that the vast majority of people over age 65 started social distancing earlier and so found it easier to adapt to the government measures than the rest of the population.”

The university will repeat the questionnaire, with possible alterations, every Tuesday as the weeks go by. “It’s important that we can compare them week after week,” said biostatistics researcher Niel Hens. “This gives us the opportunity to make better projections based on existing and new mathematical models.”

Anyone living in Belgium is invited to fill out the survey, which will be online on Tuesdays from 10.00 to 22.00. It is available in Dutch, English and French.

Photo: James Arthur Gekiere/BELGA

Written by Flanders Today