Pressure to go to work increases

August 11th 2020

Big Corona study shows that again more people (80%) no longer shake hands with or kiss to non-household members 

The tightening of measures at the end of July is also seen in the Big Corona Study: once again, more people are choosing not to shake hands with or kiss non-household members. But the pressure to go to the workplace is gradually increasing again. This and much more was found in the seventeenth wave of the questionnaire. 

Tuesday 11 August 2020 saw the seventeenth wave of the Big Corona Study, an initiative of the University of Antwerp, supported by UHasselt, KU Leuven and ULB. The Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) gives the questionnaire a financial boost. Some 30,000 people completed the questionnaire this week. 

‘Still a very nice number, around 3,000 more than at the beginning of the summer holidays’, Philippe Beutels (UAntwerp) says. ‘This is proof that people are still very concerned about the coronavirus. Together, we are trying to suppress the second wave of the pandemic.’ Since the start of the corona crisis, more than 2.5 million Belgians have participated in the Big Corona Study. An initial analysis of the results provides some interesting observations. 

More focus on social distancing, less on working from home 

There is a decreasing trend in the number of contacts that adults have, especially for the group of 18–35 year olds. Among children and young people, we see an increase compared to two weeks ago, but that may be explained by the fact that the youngest are not bound by the ‘bubble of five’ rule. ‘More people (80%) again choose not to shake hands with or kiss people non-household members’, Pierre Van Damme (UAntwerp) says. 

Since the beginning of May, more people systematically go to work, although in the past two weeks there has been a slight break in this trend, with relatively more people working from home – the effect of the measures in Antwerp. Those who do go to work – fortunately more than in the past and under well-protected conditions – mostly want to do so themselves, but the pressure from managers and higher management is also steadily increasing. ‘However, we must not forget that the workplace is an important link in the transmission of infections. This is also reflected in the figures: roughly 40% of participants who tested positive during the summer think they were infected with COVID-19 at work.’  

Contact tracing must be improved 

‘A positive evolution is that the time from receiving a COVID-19 diagnosis to contact with a contact tracer seems to become shorter over time’, Thomas Neyens (UHasselt) notes. ‘A smartphone app can also improve contact detection. 70% of those surveyed are already prepared to use such an app, which is 10% more than during the first weeks of the corona crisis. The main reason (69%) for not wanting to use it remains a lack of trust in anonymity.’ 

The Big Corona Study is organised every two weeks. The next wave is scheduled for Tuesday 25 August between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. (available in four languages).