Weekly survey maps trends of coronavirus lockdown light


Antwerp University invites anyone who lives in Belgium to fill in their weekly questionnaire, which will offer a wealth of information to policymakers

Young people having ‘a crucial impact’

Our casual observances have been confirmed by Antwerp University’s coronavirus shutdown survey. Teenagers and 20-somethings continue to see their friends and sweethearts in much greater numbers than the older generations.

The Big Corona Study, a co-operation among UAntwerp, KU Leuven and Hasselt University, goes online every Tuesday in four languages. Anyone who lives in Belgium is invited to fill in the survey, whether once or twice, or every week. Hundreds of thousands have done so every Tuesday so far.

The anonymous survey gauges people’s job situation, mental wellbeing and willingness to conform to the corona crisis measures in place. The results will be shared with government agencies.

The results of last week’s questionnaire show that 13% of people aged 13 to 25 have never stopped kissing and holding hands with their sweethearts during the shutdown measures. “It’s a minority, but a minority that can have a crucial impact,” said statistics professor Thomas Neyens. “Hopefully this will not manifest itself in a new surge of infections over the next few days. On the other hand, it is encouraging that we do not see this same figure among adults.”

There are several studies in circulation linked to the corona crisis, but our study is unique for its wide range of subjects

- Professor Philippe Beutels

As for parents, they admit that trying to work at home while their kids are following lessons there is increasingly challenging. “In particularly, parents of primary school students admit that their own work is an obstacle in supporting their children’s schoolwork. A smaller percentage say that they are not quite sure what is expected of them from the teacher.”

Graphs showing some of the results of the study can be consulted online. You can see, for instance, that Covid-19 symptoms tend to taper off as the weeks go by and that loads of people had a runny nose, whereas very few had a high temperature. This suggests that some of the most-felt symptoms like a runny nose and a sore throat might have simply been colds or allergies.

The questionnaire is online today until 22.00. Then it will disappear until next Tuesday. “It’s important that people fill it out every week,” said professor Philippe Beutels, director of UAntwerp’s Centre for Health Economics Research & Modelling Infectious Diseases. “There are several studies in circulation that are linked to the corona crisis. But our study is unique for its wide range of subjects and because it tracks responses over several weeks. This will allow us to map evolutions and make connections. That’s crucial in co-ordinating policies.”

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