REGINA -- As the number of cases of COVID-19 in Canada rises, the number of people taking the pandemic seriously is also increasing.

According to a recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute, only 12 per cent of Canadians feel the threat of a coronavirus outbreak in Canada is overblown.

"Back at the beginning of February, the vast majority of Canadians thought that the threat of a COVID pandemic was overblown, indeed, 70 per cent of Canadians thought that at the time," Angus Reid Institute executive director Shachi Kurl said.

That number was still at 58 per cent in early March, but it has steadily dropped over the past month, including in Saskatchewan and Manitoba where only eight per cent of those polled considered COVID-19 overblown.

Kurl says opinions have changed as more communities have felt the impact.

"You have seen opinion changing daily, hourly, in real time as Canadians come to grips with the number of cases," Kurl said.

Gordon Pennycook, a behavioural scientist at the University of Regina, along with colleagues in the United States and United Kingdom have conducted their own study sampling about 700 people in each country last week.

He says where people receive their information and what kind of information they are receiving plays a big part in how serious people are taking the pandemic.

"The lag is contingent on what kind of information are getting access to and unfortunately, not everyone is watching news sources that are properly emphasizing the importance of the issue," Pennycook said.

Pennycook adds people’s general outlook can also play a factor.

"Some people are just more optimistic, they are predisposed to not thinking this is a problem just by being more optimistic as a person," he said.

The Angus Reid Institute poll also suggests people who aren’t taking the pandemic seriously are less likely to be washing their hands more often, keeping extra personal distance from people, not shaking hands or hugging people, or staying away from public places, and those people run the risk of becoming a super spreader.