Most Britons still aren’t scared about contracting coronavirus

Chris CurtisPolitical Research Manager
March 13, 2020, 4:39 PM UTC

The number of Britons scared about contracting the virus has increased to 38% but most of the population remains unconcerned. However, this figure rises to 45% of those aged over 65, who are most at risk from the disease

As the Prime Minister announces further measures designed to delay the spread of coronavirus which were immediately criticised by some for not going far enough, the latest results from YouGov’s coronavirus tracker reveals increasing numbers of people are taking their own steps to combat the spread of the virus.

Since our previous wave (run between February 28th and March 1st) the number of people who have been following the key piece of government advice, to washing their hands more frequently, is up from 35% to 61%.

The number refraining from touching objects in public has more than doubled, from 14% to 30%. There has also been an increase in the number of people who are avoiding crowded places (up from 14% to 24%).

However, in line with government advice, hardly anyone has stopped sending their children to school (less than 1%) and very few (4%) are avoiding going to work.

Part of what might be driving this general increase in action is a higher level of fear among the population. The number of people who say they are very or fairly scared about contracting the virus has increased to 38%, from 24%.  

However, the majority of the public (59%) still say they are either not very, or not at all scared.

A lot of the jump in levels of fear has come from the very eldest voters, who are much more likely to suffer from severe consequences if they catch the virus, and who the Prime Minister spoke directly to in his speech yesterday. Nearly half (45%) of the over 65s now say they are very or fairly scared about contracting the virus, over double the 22% who said the same in our previous survey.  

When it comes to government action the public are generally supportive of how they are handling the crisis. The majority (55%) still think they are doing well, with just three in ten (30%) saying they are doing badly.

Most members of the public (56%) agree with the course of action already taken by many sports organisers – the cancellation or postponement of large events (including concerts) – and believe that the government should now officially cancel such events. The Premier League, EFL, Pro 14 and the England and Wales Cricket Board are amongst those to have postponed or cancelled events and tours this week, despite this not yet being official government advice.

There is less appetite for closing schools, with 34% of the public, and 32% of parents thinking this is a measure the government should now take. This is up from 17% in the last wave.

Other measures that a majority think the government should enact include encouraging companies to allow people to work from home (66%), quarantining anyone who has been in contact with a contaminated patient (59%) and stopping all flights coming into Britain from Mainland China (50%).

Photo: Getty

See the full results here