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Anxiety Towards COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

McCormack, G.R., Doyle-Baker, P.K., & Petersen, J.A.


COVID-19 in Canada

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the pandemic outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) (1). Canadians have been recommended to take personal steps to reduce transmission of COVID-19 through practicing physical distancing, forgoing international travel, and self-quarantining if they present with

symptoms. In addition to these personal measures, public health responses to COVID-19 have involved closures of educational facilities and non-essential businesses (2). These public health measures have impacted the daily lives of Canadians.

Anxiety associated with COVID-19

Between April 14 and June 8, 2020, a random sample of 1256 adults from 17 north central Calgary communities (Canada) completed an online survey. The survey captured health, health behaviour, and social characteristics. Two questions, adapted from a previously published study (3), were also included in the survey to capture participants’ perceived anxiety and seriousness in relation to COVID-19. Participants completing the survey mostly identified as female (61%). A high proportion of participants perceived the COVID-19 situation to be an extremely or very serious problem (88.5%). Most participants also reported being somewhat (55.0%) or extremely or very anxious (31.5%). Based on these findings, the perceived seriousness and anxiety towards the emergence of COVID-19 and its consequences are high. Positive and protective action should be taken towards managing anxiety related to COVID-19. This can be done by recognizing that it is common to have feelings of stress or anxiety during times of uncertainty, taking time to relax, engaging in physical activity (4) and seeking support from friends, family, or professionals when needed.

Written by Dalia Ghoneim, MPH, CSEP-CEP; Graphic by Emma Chong and Dalia Ghoneim; Posted on June 23rd 2020.



  1. WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19. [accessed April 29 2020] [press release]. 2020, March 11.

  2. Help prevent the spread. [accessed April 15 2020]. [press release]. 2020.

  3. Van D, et al.,. University life and pandemic influenza: Attitudes and intended behaviour of staff and students towards pandemic (H1N1) 2009. BMC Public Health. 2010 Dec 1;10(1):130.

  4. Anderson EH, Shivakumar G. Effects of exercise and physical activity on anxiety. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2013 Apr 23;4:27.


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