At this stage, most people around the world undoubtedly know that Covid-19 poses a threat to life as we know it, and this is not any different in South Africa. In an online study of 1,000 South African adults, conducted from 20 to 22 April 2020, 92% agreed that they see the threat of coronavirus to the world as “very high” or “high”. This result is similar to that of the previous month’s results (March 2020), when 94% of online South Africans said that the virus was a “very high” or “high” threat to the world.
Questions were asked on how citizens experienced the threat posed to South Africa, their local communities, their families and themselves:
|How high is the level of threat posed by the coronavirus to...||South Africa||Your local community||Your family||You personally|
|Very high threat/High threat||90||87||68||68||53||57||48||53|
|Low/Very low threat||1||2||7||10||17||19||20||22|
The findings are consistent over the two iterations of the study - in March and in April 2020 - but it is interesting to see that citizens’ concern about the possibility of their families and themselves getting infected is increasing – currently 57% of online South Africans say that the virus poses a threat to their families (compared to 53% in March), and 53% is concerned about themselves being infected (compared to 48% in March).
Who expresses the strongest views of coronavirus as a threat?
To explore the experience of online South Africans as an increasing threat to us personally, we will look at the views of men and women separately, and at opinions in different provinces.
|How high is the level of threat posed by the coronavirus to…||You personally||Females’ opinion||Males’ opinion|
|Very high threat/High threat||53||50||57|
|Low/Very low threat||22||21||24|
Men perceive coronavirus to be a larger threat to them personally than women do, however, almost three in every ten (28%) women say it poses a moderate threat, compared to only 17% of men. It thus seems as if women are slightly more cautious in expressing their views about the threat posed by the virus.
In seven of the nine provinces, online South Africans perceive the threat of coronavirus to them personally to have increased in the month since the survey was undertaken in March 2020. In Gauteng, the perception did not change much, but in the Eastern Cape the perception of coronavirus as a personal threat decreased with ten percentage points.
It is possible that people in the Eastern Cape are feeling that they are slightly safer than those in the neighbouring provinces, as KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape are experiencing some of the highest infection rates in South Africa.
|How high is the level of threat posed by coronavirus to you personally?||Very high threat/ high threat
|Very high threat/ high threat
The figures are ranked according to the results per province in April 2020
How serious will the infection be?
Respondents were asked to indicate that, if they were infected by the novel coronavirus, how seriously they think their health would be affected. The table below shows that more than eight in every ten (82%) online South Africans think that infection with this virus would affect their health seriously (“extremely seriously”, “very seriously” or “somewhat seriously”). Less than one in every ten (8%) do not consider the virus to be serious at all, and a further 10% are not sure about how the virus will affect them.
|If you were infected by coronavirus or Covid-19, how seriously do you think it would affect your health?||April 2020
|Not at all seriously||8|
In the Western Cape, Gauteng and North West, slightly smaller proportions of citizens think that an infection with novel coronavirus will be a serious health issue for them - compared to other provinces – this might have to do with the perceived higher quality of healthcare facilities available (especially in Gauteng and the Western Cape).
|The coronavirus poses a very high or a high threat to me personally.
|An infection with coronavirus/Covid-19 will affect my health extremely seriously, very seriously or somewhat seriously.
The figures are ranked according to the results per province of the perceived seriousness of the influence of the virus on health
Protective actions taken
Have you taken any personal actions to protect yourself from the novel coronavirus or Covid-19?
Online South Africans have certainly listened to (some of) the messages distributed on how to try and avoid infection...
- More than nine in ten are washing their hands more often
- More than eight in ten are practicing social distancing and are using hand sanitiser
- Disinfectants and face masks are used by more than six in every ten
- Some are still stocking up on various items (although it does not look like the “panic buying” of the first few days after lockdown was declared).
It has been communicated repeatedly that the normal flu vaccine will not be effective against the novel coronavirus, but the 12% who got the flu vaccination, as per the table below, might have taken this with the view to the coming winter and not as a precautionary action.
|Actions taken||April 2020
|Washing hands more often||91|
|Practicing social distancing when going out||82|
|Using hand sanitiser throughout the day||81|
|Using more disinfectants||64|
|Wearing a face mask||63|
|Stocking up on food||50|
|Taking additional supplements like Vitamin C, Zinc etc.||47|
|Stocking up on day-to-day household products such as toilet paper||39|
|Stocking up on over the counter medicines||26|
|Stocking up on water||25|
|Getting a flu vaccination||12|
|Seeing your doctor for a general health check although you feel fine||10|
|None of these||1|
The above are not the only precautionary measures one can take and many have changed their behaviour with the growing threat of Covid-19. Respondents were asked what they started doing to protect themselves….
|Have you started doing any of the following specifically to protect yourself from the coronavirus or Covid-19?||April 2020
|Avoiding shaking hands||91|
|Avoiding close contact with others||87|
|Not attending church / mosque / shul or religious meetings||82|
|Cancelling plans to attend events or other large gatherings of people||77|
|Avoiding public toilets or bathrooms||75|
|Not going to work||67|
|Cancelling or postponing plans to take any vacation or leisure travel||63|
|Cancelling or postponing a trip within South Africa||63|
|Cancelling or postponing taking a trip by car||63|
|Cancelling or postponing any plans to travel by air||54|
|Visiting the South African Health Department’s website for the latest information and advice||40|
It is probably safe to say that coronavirus made South Africans more aware of personal space but looking at these results it looks as if most online South Africans try to follow the recommendations from medical professionals and government communications and apply “social distancing”.
About the Study
- These are the results of an Ipsos South Africa survey conducted from 20 – 22 April 2020 on Ipsos South Africa’s Online platform, with a sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 - 65. Respondents are from all provinces and population groups. The study is representative of the almost two-thirds of South Africans who can access internet at home or on their mobile phones. Ipsos weighted and projected the results to this population.
- The previous study was conducted from 24 – 27 March 2020 with 1,008 respondents.
- Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't know or not stated responses.
- The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website (www.ipsos.com).
For more information on this news release, please contact:
- Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.
- Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide the true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5,000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.
- Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).
- ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters IPSOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS: FP www.ipsos.com
Elections 2019: Unpacking Party Manifestos
Africa Check and Ipsos invite you to join the discussion of the 2019 Elections Manifestos (ANC/EFF/DA). Ipsos will present their research on public perception around political parties and key issues while Africa Check will share their findings on how the facts in the manifestos hold up. KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY JUDGE SACHS