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Coronavirus: Public health poll probes Quebecers’ perceptions surrounding pandemic

People wear face masks as they commute on a metro in Montreal, Sunday, July 12, 2020. A new suvey looks at Quebecer's perceptions surrounding the novel coronavirus. Monday, Aug. 3, 2020.
People wear face masks as they commute on a metro in Montreal, Sunday, July 12, 2020. A new suvey looks at Quebecer's perceptions surrounding the novel coronavirus. Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

A survey commissioned by Quebec health authorities on attitudes and behaviours around COVID-19 has found that nearly one-quarter of respondents believe the novel coronavirus was created in a laboratory.

The Institut national de Santé Publique — the province’s independent public health institute — published the results Monday of online polls conducted earlier this year.

Read more: Coronavirus: Social media users more likely to believe false information, McGill study suggests

While one-third of respondents felt the pandemic was being exaggerated in the media, a growing number also said they wear a mask because it helps protect others.

The poll also mentioned conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19, finding that nearly 35 per cent of Quebecers believe the provincial government is hiding important information about the virus.

Loyola High School investigating questionable comments posted on social media by a teacher
Loyola High School investigating questionable comments posted on social media by a teacher

Twenty-three per cent of those polled in June said the virus was made in a lab, an equal number said they were unsure, and 54 per cent disagreed with the statement.

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Just six per cent said they believe the conspiracy theory linking the virus and 5G cellphone technology — the fifth-generation technology standard for cellphone companies that is progressively being rolled out worldwide.

Read more: Coronavirus conspiracies spreading at alarming rates across Canada, experts say

The institute says respondents under the age of 60, those whose incomes have been reduced by the pandemic and those with only a high school education were more likely to believe conspiracies about the virus.

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The online survey, which cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered random samples, involved 1,000 adult Quebecers between March 21 and May 31, with an additional 2,000 adults surveyed during a three-day period in June.

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