Poll: Most of Asia in High Anxiety over COVID-19


With the rising cases of coronaviruses beyond China, how worried are you?

Blackbox Research and Toluna, an ITWP company, has conducted the world’s largest poll on the coronavirus to date – 4,111 people across nine Asian countries and territories were asked their opinions on the coronavirus outbreak and their Governments’ responses.

The survey was conducted from 14th to 17th February and these are the highlights of the survey:

  • 84% of those surveyed across the region want a blanket ban on flights from China.
  • Countries are split on whether the crisis will get worse or better in the next month.
  • Japan (85%), Hong Kong (72%), Singapore (64%) and Thailand (56%) believe the number of cases in their country/territory will rise in the coming month. More optimism in South Korea (26%), Indonesia (33%) and the Philippines (35%). Vietnam (49%) and Malaysia (45%) are split on the prognosis.
  • Singapore’s anxiety levels are high but do not necessarily correlate with the number of reported local cases: 69% of Vietnamese report they are worried about the outbreak, with 16 cases reported as of 17thFebruary.
  • General concern at the impact of the outbreak on the local and international economies: 83% of Malaysians believe the outbreak is affecting the international economy. The most optimistic nation is Japan, but still with 58% believing there is an impact. This closely matches opinions of the impact on local economies. Malaysia (77%), Hong Kong (76%) and Singapore (73%) have the greatest perception of impact on the domestic economy; 57% in Japan and Indonesia say the same.
  • There is wide disparity in confidence of governments’ reactions to the crisis: Vietnamese citizens are happiest with their government’s response – 81% say the government has acted appropriately in addressing the virus. In contrast, only 23% of Hong Kongers believe their government has acted appropriately. In fact, 73% of Hong Kong residents believe the government has acted insufficiently or not at all in response to the virus.
  • Asians have also shifted their day to day behaviour, with most countries reporting a focus on washing hands, wearing face masks, avoiding crowded places and attending to personal health
  • Across the region, 23% say they are working from home more, the largest number being in Vietnam (40%) and Hong Kong (39%). In other key findings:
  • Singaporeans are paying most attention to the news and information about the virus (62%) while Japanese are paying the least attention (19%).
  • In terms of news coverage, Asians are largely following coronavirus news on television. TV is also seen as the most credible news source. The exception is Singapore, where online/digital newspapers are being relied on most and government websites are seen as being the most credible news source.
  • While only 15% of those surveyed across the region said they view social media news/information sources as credible, this figure is double in Hong Kong (31%).

Commenting on the findings, Blackbox Research CEO, David Black said, “While we see high levels of anxiety about the virus across the region, people’s lenses do vary. In Hong Kong, ongoing mistrust of the government appears to have carried over to the handling of the coronavirus. In Japan, while people are not paying as close attention, it is possible the ‘Diamond Princess’ story has fed fears that cases there will continue to increase.”

“In South East Asia, we are seeing higher levels of confidence in Vietnam and Singapore with respect to how the crisis is being managed by government. Indonesians, too, seem to be giving their government credit.”

“The desire for a travel ban from China is very consistent across the nine countries surveyed. More than eight in ten (84%) of those surveyed believe there should be a total ban on all flights from China until the virus is under control on the mainland.”

As the world’s largest poll on the coronavirus to date, a total of 4,111 people across nine Asian countries and territories were asked their opinions on the coronavirus outbreak and their governments’ responses. The breakdowns of the countries are:

Country Sample size
Singapore 300
Malaysia 501
Indonesia 500
Thailand 501
Vietnam 501
Japan 500
Korea 500
Philippines 508
Hongkong 300
Total 4,111

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