Age-demographic and gender-specific campaigning can reduce the spread of coronavirus

The coronavirus disease outbreak started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and severely spread to South Korea, Europe and North America. The virus has killed 2,294,534 globally and 466,988 in the USA as of Feb. 5, 2021, as stated in Statista.

The first Canadian COVID-19 case was detected on Jan. 25, 2020, in Toronto in a man who had a recent travel history in Wuhan, reported Toronto Public Health. Since then, there have been a total of 797,756 cases and 20,609 COVID-19 related deaths in Canada as of Feb. 5. In the same period, Manitoba's total cases and COVID-19 related deaths are 30,078 and 838, respectively, according to Canada.ca/covid-19. Northern Manitoba’s total cases and COVID-19 related deaths are 4,197 and 33 respectively as of Feb. 10, as stated at Manitoba.ca/COVID-19.

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The Manitoba.ca/COVID-19 data shows that the daily highest COVID-19 cases were 593 on Nov. 22. Since then, daily numbers declined to 81 on Feb. 5. As a result, the government eased COVID-19 restrictions on the purchase of non-essential items, haircuts and allowed two designated visitors in a house on Jan. 23, except the northern region. Global News reported on the same day that Polo Park mall in Winnipeg was crowded with shoppers to buy items in stores. Such crowded malls may eventually cause another spike. However, we certainly need to reopen malls and see those malls crowded with shoppers for quality of life and livelihood for businesses and shoppers alike, all the while following public health orders. The concept of "complementary goods or services" can be applied to quality of life and livelihood, meaning that quality of life cannot be attained without a sustained livelihood. Due to such complex relationships between these two, Manitoba has been gradually reopening the economy from Jan. 23, and an extensive release of restrictions occurred February 13. However, every individual, group and community has a role to play to avoid any further surge of COVID-19 due to such reopening of economic and social activities.

If we look at the Manitoba.ca/COVID-19 data by age group, on Feb. 5, it shows that the highest total cases are in the age groups of 20-39 years. Concurrently, research authored by M. Monod et al. that was published in Science released on Feb. 2, points out that in the United States, at least 65 per cent of coronavirus infections originate from individuals of age group 20-49 years. So, Manitoba's highest cases in aged 20-39 group exhibit the highest probability of virus transmission in the province due to their attitudes and mobility. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the age-demographic impacts of coronavirus transmission in our motivational efforts of controlling COVID-19 to avoid any resurgence of infections due to relaxing rules, enabling us to restart business and social pursuits carefully.

Other notable information we can see from the Manitoba.ca/COVID-19 data is that there is a higher number of total cases among males than females in the age group of 20-39 years as of Feb. 5. Therefore, it can be logically argued that males of this age group may spread more virus than the females in Manitoba. A Harvard University research supports such an argument by Dina Gerdeman, published on Oct. 29. This research found that women are more likely than men to maintain responsible preventive measures such as following stay-at-home orders, social distancing, wearing a face-mask and frequent handwashing, preventing COVID-19's spread. Another research paper authored by George M. Bwire, published in SN Comprehensive Clinical Medicine on June 4, pointed out that gender-based behaviours or lifestyle and other biological differences between genders caused a larger number of men's deaths. So, men's higher number of deaths come from their higher rates of virus infections and those infected spread more viruses. The differences in gender-based attitudes and their effects are vital in our motivational efforts to prevent a COVID-19 surge that crafts avenues to restore activities safely.

COVID-19 has been hard on Northern Manitoba. Since Jan. 13, the region recorded about half of the provincewide total cases in several days, as of Feb. 11. The highest number of total COVID-19 cases were detected in the age group of 20-39 years and more infections were found among females than males as of Feb. 11. This is unlike what we found earlier in the Manitoba provincewide reported cases, USA and other countries. The higher number of female infections might be caused by the housing shortage in Northern First Nations in Manitoba. A COVID-19 media release from Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) on April 2 of last year outlined that the housing and building shortage in northern First Nations have been affecting their abilities to self-isolate. This indicates the urgency needed to address their housing concerns. Again, the differences in age-demographic and gender-based attitudes and their effects need to be taken into account for northern communities' motivational efforts to prevent the COVID-19 surge, creating a way to resume economic, social and cultural activities in northern communities with safety.

Regardless of age-demographics or gender, all men and women should demonstrate responsible attitudes towards COVID-19 preventive measures. However, the points explained earlier support engaging in positive motivational drives while considering the attitudinal disparities of age-demographics and gender may further enhance our continuing efforts to avoid another COVID-19 surge in Manitoba. The population with the age group of 20-39 years mostly falls under the millennials and post-millennials or the Generation Z group. In January 2019, Michael Dimock, the Pew Research Center president, pointed out that millennials grew up during the internet explosion age. While, Generation Z lives with high-bandwidth cellular, WiFi, mobile devices, constant connectivity, social media etc., millennials adapted to such technologies. Millennials and Generation Z's characteristics provide comparative advantages of promoting digitalized motivational campaigns that match their lifestyle, encouraging them to practise responsible preventive COVID-19 measures. Therefore, it is crucial to upgrade approaches and initiatives that match the 20-39 age group's lifestyle and views, changing their attitudes towards practising responsible preventive measures regarding COVID-19. As part of such initiatives, promoting several internet-based platforms for individual, small group and community-level interactive communications, alongside electronic and social media campaigns, boost attitudes of adhering to public health orders to prevent further coronavirus surges in Manitoba, sustaining quality of life and livelihood through relaxing COVID-19 restrictions.

Amzad Hossain holds a PhD and is a business administration at University College of the North.

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