Concern about coronavirus leaps to new heights

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Concern about coronavirus is now Australians’ biggest concern on all measures, with unprompted concern about the virus jumping 11 points this week to 65%, up from 54% last week and 35% seven weeks ago. And when prompted, 83% were “extremely” or “quite” concerned about coronavirus, with 55% “extremely” concerned about it (up from 30% seven weeks ago). It is also the first time since April that concern about the virus has exceeded the economy (80%) on the prompted question. These numbers reflect the ongoing crisis in Melbourne and NSW hotspots with growing daily cases underlining that the situation is not yet under control.

Week 21 of our national tracking study surveyed more than 1,100 people from Mon 27th July – Wed 29th July and shows that a “second wave” is now the top virus-related worry. Some 81% are “extremely” or “quite” concerned about this, ahead of the overall economic impact of coronavirus (80%) and the impact on jobs and unemployment (78%).

Response supported but some question marks

As the pandemic rolls on, most still believe Australia is responding to coronavirus at an appropriate level (67%) compared with a peak of 82% two months ago. However, some 26% now believe we are not taking the issue seriously enough (up from only 11% two months ago). In a new measure, a majority (59%) believe that a suppression strategy is the best option to deal with a virus outbreak, with 41% preferring an elimination strategy. However, lockdown-weary Victoria disagrees with 57% preferring elimination.

Aged care under pressure

The recent cases in Melbourne aged care facilities are having an impact on public confidence, with 66% “extremely” or “quite” concerned about the quality of aged care compared to 60% two weeks ago.

Mask wearing more common

36% of participants reported wearing a mask in the past 7 days, up from 26% last week and just 18% two weeks ago. Most would wear a mask if social distancing is difficult (67%) or if it was recommended by their state or territory Chief Medical Officer (82%).


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