International COVID-19 tracker update: 4 April

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
April 03, 2020, 11:00 PM GMT+0

Big changes are taking place in Vietnam and Scandinavia

As the world continues to shut down in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the difference between those nations that have taken early action and those that have not is thrown into stark relief in YouGov’s 26-market COVID-19 tracker.

The country where attitudes have changed most markedly since the last survey is Vietnam. Despite the nation’s lockdown taking place after our most recent survey there, the country is consistently the top, or among the top, in terms of increasing fear levels or people taking up anti-coronavirus behaviours.

For instance, the number of Vietnamese people wearing face masks in public has risen 26 percentage points, from 59% on 23 March to 85% by 30 March.

Likewise, the proportion practicing better personal hygiene is up 24 percentage points, from 54% to 80%. There have been equally large increases in the number of people refraining from touching objects in public (from 40% to 64%), and avoiding crowded places (from 56% to 80%).

These changes mean that attitudes in Vietnam are now largely in line with those in regional neighbours.

While Vietnam has also experienced a noticeable increase in the proportion of people scared of catching coronavirus – up 11 percentage points to 89%, they are not the country with the largest increase.

That dubious honour goes to Mexico, which has seen a rapid 23 percentage increase from 39% being very or fairly scared of catching the disease last week to 62% this week. Mexicans had consistently been among the least worried in the countries studied, so this week’s lockdown order is likely responsible for the sudden surge.


Other countries experiencing double-digits increases in the numbers of scared citizens include Australia, Canada, and Finland.

Behaviour in Nordic nations is beginning to catch up with the rest of the world

In the Nordic countries too, big shifts are taking place. For instance, in Finland, Norway and Sweden the proportion of people now avoiding crowded public places is now more than 20 percentage points higher than it was at the time of the previous survey. In Denmark a still-large increase of 13 percentage points took place.

Behaviour: avoid crowds

These countries have also saw large increases in the number of people now working from home, refraining from touching objects in public places, and avoiding physical contact with tourists.

On the other side of the planet Australia has also seen sizeable shifts in the number of people making lifestyle changes. The country, which had been in stage one of a potential three-stage lockdown at the time of the most recent survey, has seen the number of people avoiding crowded public places rise from 66% to 80%, and the proportion avoiding touching public objects like lift buttons increase from 53% to 67%.

Elsewhere in the study, In terms of changing support for measures governments could take, only small increases – if any – were recorded across the world by the tracker.

Photo: Getty

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