Survey: Icelanders More Worried About Coronavirus, Have Less Faith In Health Guidelines

Survey: Icelanders More Worried About Coronavirus, Have Less Faith In Health Guidelines

Published August 26, 2020

Photo by
Art Bicnick

Icelanders are more worried about the coronavirus now than they were during the first wave, but also have less faith in the guidelines set by health authorities, RÚV reports, according to a new survey conducted by the Social Sciences Department of the University of Iceland. Jón Gunnar Bernburg, a professor of sociology at the university, discussed the survey results on the roundtable discussion show Kastljós last night.

The survey tracks two time periods: April 1st to June 8th, and August 8th to August 24th. During the start of both time periods, the same percentage of Icelanders—roughly 70%—expressed worries about the coronavirus. However, by the end of the first period, just over 35% of Icelanders were still worried, while 60% of Icelanders at the end of the second period said they were worried about the virus.

Despite this significant increase in worry about COVID-19, the likelihood of following health guidelines has not increased with it. From August 8th to August 24th—the same period of time that shows Icelanders more worried than ever about catching the coronavirus—the percentage of those who said they would follow health guidelines remained relatively steady, at just under 75%.

A partial explanation for this discrepancy could be explained by peoples’ faith in the guidelines. During the first time period, the percentage of Icelanders who believed that the health regulations of the time would be enough to combat the virus went from just under 60% to just over 75%. During the second time period, those percentages started at around 30% and have only gone as high as about 45%.

Interestingly, belief that others with whom they are in closest contact would follow the regulations fell from 80% to 60% during the first time period, but have remained steady at just under 60% during the second time period.

“The pandemic began to rise again, and that seems to have decreased peoples’ faith [in the guidelines],” Jón Gunnar said. “In the middle of [the first wave], the expectation that these measures would yield results was great.” However, we are now in the midst of a second wave with the possibility of a third on the horizon.

As such, he says, it is undeniable that supervision and enforcement should have been done sooner, the way it is being done now. “Now we need to start relying on formal restrictions of the general populace.”

As ever, those looking for more information or advice should go to the Icelandic Government’s excellent COVID-19 help page.

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