Doctors share their ideas on how to get people to pay attention to Covid restrictions

LONDON — The key to improving compliance with coronavirus health measures lies in effective communication between policymakers and the broader population, infectious disease experts have said.

It comes as several European countries seek to impose fresh lockdown measures to tackle the spread of the disease, almost eight months after the WHO first declared Covid-19 a pandemic.

Countries including the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands have all moved to reintroduce strict health measures as Covid-19 infections continue to rise.

The government-imposed restrictions have sparked at times violent clashes across the region in recent days. It appears to reflect a growing sense of frustration with governments’ responses to the pandemic, and amid concern the draconian measures are likely to remain in place for some time.

“We have, in many nations, had strict restrictive measures for very many months and we don’t see them ending. We know now that we are going to have to start living with this virus in a more chronic way — really, in the long term,” said Dr. Olivia Tulloch, CEO of Anthrologica, a leading research-based specialist in applied anthropology in global health.

“And so, people feel fatigue, confusion, and frustration to do with the measures that are being directed at them. People look at the measures that are designed to protect them and they can see that they start to undermine other parts of their existence,” Tulloch said during a webinar for think tank Chatham House last month.

“If you are in a place where the messages are changing and are not consistent or it has been heavily politicized, I think you do see that trust and willingness to comply can be undermined.”