• 42% of people view coronavirus as a high or very high global threat.
  • 86% have seen, read or heard a great deal or a fair amount about it.
  • Widespread support for actions such as quarantine and travel bans.

There is strong public support for quarantine and travel bans to contain the coronavirus outbreak, a new global survey from Ipsos shows.

The pollster questioned 1,000 people in each of eight countries, aged between 16 and 74.

Researchers found high levels of concern about the dangers posed by the respiratory virus, which has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization and is officially named COVID-19.

Under threat

Survey respondents were asked the following question: What level of threat do you think the coronavirus poses?

coronavirus threat
Concern is high.
Image: Ipsos

More than half of respondents in Japan, Australia and the US feel the outbreak represents a high or very high threat to the world. In France and Germany this drops to just below half, and concern levels fall further in Canada, Russia and the UK.

  • 42% of respondents in eight countries think the virus threat is high.
  • 28% of Australians think the virus threat is very high.

For a third of people surveyed, the threat level remains moderate. While almost 60% of people surveyed think the virus poses a low threat.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about epidemics?

Epidemics are a huge threat to health and the economy: the vast spread of disease can literally destroy societies.

In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and to enable access to them during outbreaks.

Our world needs stronger, unified responses to major health threats. By creating alliances and coalitions like CEPI, which involve expertise, funding and other support, we are able to collectively address the most pressing global health challenges.

Is your organisation interested in working with the World Economic Forum to tackle global health issues? Find out more here.

Containing the outbreak

On average, a fifth of people think the outbreak has been contained and the danger will soon be over.

But more than twice as many people disagree, expressing concerns that the threat from the virus is ongoing. This viewpoint was expressed by more than half of respondents in Canada, UK and Australia.

  • 19% think the danger will soon be over.
  • 46% think the danger will not be over soon.
Coronavirus
A rendering of the crown-shaped coronavirus.
Image: Reuters

Staying informed

Regardless of differing opinions about the virus, the majority of respondents were united in their desire to stay informed about its spread. More than 80% of people contacted by the survey had seen, read or heard a great deal or a fair amount about the outbreak.

  • 86% of people have seen, read or heard about the outbreak a great deal or a fair amount.

Global spread

There is widespread support for significant actions to control the virus. More than 80% of respondents are in favour of mandatory screening of people travelling from infected countries, and there is similar support for mandatory quarantine of those suspected of contracting the disease.

Other measures garnering support include airline restrictions on flights to China and travel bans to and from affected countries.

  • 85% are in favour of mandatory screening.
  • 66% support travel bans on travellers from infected countries.

The disease has so far infected tens of thousands of people and killed more than 1,000.