More caution needed! Older people less compliant with Covid-19 precautions

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Older Aussies have been sent a stern warning to stay vigilant and follow self-isolation and social distancing orders to ensure protection from the coronavirus, as a new study reveals the lack of compliance by over-60s.

While Australia has managed to get on top of the pandemic for the most part, with Victoria’s second outbreak an exception, experts have claimed more caution is still needed to protect those most at risk of contracting Covid-19. And worryingly, they said its Baby Boomers who aren’t as willing to isolate when asked to, and are less compliant with several coronavirus preventive measures.

The survey, published recently in journal Plos One, examined older people’s attitudes and compliance with Covid-19 preventative measures from 27 countries. They were asked about their willingness to self-isolate if necessary, as well as their compliance with specific preventative measures such as hand washing or wearing a mask.

And worryingly, the survey suggests that elderly people are no more willing than those in their 50s and 60s to voluntarily self-isolate if they begin to feel ill or if they are advised to do so by a clinician or health official. While people aged 60 to 80 are less likely than younger age groups to wear a mask outside their home. However, older people are more likely to avoid public transport and avoid small gatherings or have guests over.

Hassan Vally, La Trobe University infectious disease specialist, said these results are concerning, given the death rate for the coronavirus begins to rise for people over 50-years-old

“Those under 50 years who are infected have a death rate of 0.2 to 0.4 per cent, while for those 50 to 59, it’s just 1.3 per cent,” he said, according to news.com.au. “For those 60 to 69 years, it’s 3.6 per cent, for 70 to 79, it’s 8 per cent and for those over 80, it’s 14.8 per cent.”

Experts said these findings suggest that efforts are needed to improve public health strategies to encourage older adults to comply with preventative measures. And a deeper understanding of people’s attitudes and compliance could help inform such improvements and ultimately, reduce the number of deaths due to the pandemic.

“There is room for improvement in every figure shown in this research, and especially when dealing with compliance,” the study authors said. “There may be short term or more deeply rooted predispositions among older people, that can partly explain this non-effect, but either way, governments must revisit their approach in order to minimise the number of deaths caused by Covid-19.”

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