Toronto, Ontario, January 30, 2020 — The recent coronavirus outbreak in China has been reported around the world, with media coverage increasing in line with the number of confirmed cases. Ipsos polling conducted in late January shows that Canadians are sitting up and taking notice, though most don’t see a major threat just yet.
Widespread Awareness, Not Much Surprise
Most Canadians say they are aware of the coronavirus outbreak in China, with 87% indicating they have seen, read or heard something about it (52% a great deal / 35% some). Only 3% have heard nothing at all about the coronavirus outbreak.
Awareness is very high among all demographics, with a minimum of eight in ten having heard something across all age, gender, region, education and income groups. At the lower end, with slightly less awareness of the coronavirus than their peers, are Millennials (82%), Quebecers (79%), and those living in lower-income households (81%).
Earlier Ipsos polling conducted in late 2019 suggested that at that time – just prior to the first reports of the coronavirus in China – Canadians were increasingly expecting that a health epidemic would break out in the country. Just over half (52%) expected an outbreak of some sort, up 18 points since 2010, while 48% did not. It’s fair to say that the arrival of the coronavirus, with several cases already confirmed in Canada, has not come as a complete surprise to Canadians.
A Threat to the World, But Not to Canada?
Despite knowing about the coronavirus, most Canadians don’t yet see it as a direct threat. The perceived danger is seen to be overseas, and for most Canadians, the potential threat diminishes closer to home, even when told that the coronavirus has already been detected in Canada.
Half (49%) of Canadians think the coronavirus poses a threat (17% very high/32% high) to the world today, while three in ten (30%) think it poses a threat (9% very high/21% high) to Canada. Fewer still think the coronavirus is a threat to their province (24%) or to themselves and their family (16%).
Who is most likely to see a threat to themselves or their family? It depends on how old they are. The survey found that younger Canadians are the most likely to think the coronavirus poses a direct threat to them and their loved ones – a perception that diminishes as age goes up. One in four Gen Z Canadians (24%) see a high level of threat, compared to 19% of Millennials, 17% of Gen X’ers, and just 11% of Baby Boomers. Regionally, those living in Alberta (18%) and Quebec (18%) are most likely to see a direct threat from the coronavirus, ahead of Ontario (16%), British Columbia (15%), Atlantic Canada (15%), and the Prairies (9%).
About the Study
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Context Advantage Trends study with polling conducted between January 27 and January 28, 2020. For this survey, a sample of 1,402 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel, including an oversample to bring Ontario to n=800. Quota sampling and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
For more information on this Factum, please contact:
Jennifer McLeod Macey
Vice President, Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2101
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