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Coronavirus (COVID-19) International Polling Round-Up 14/07/2020


Westco polling round-up

We have recently developed and launched a series of online tools for our public sector and local authority clients to engage with and monitor residents and local businesses on the personal and financial impact of COVID-19, their concerns and support they have accessed/need from their local authorities. These tools are:

  • Quick to turnaround to launch and gather results
  • Low cost
  • Highly useful in terms of providing actionable insight to inform both crisis response and recovery
  • Monitor and track trends over time, whilst benchmarking against national data and other Westco tracker surveys

If you’re interested in finding out more, please contact our Executive Research Director, Caroline Roper, for more information (


A recent Ipsos MORI poll revealed that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is still one of the top concerns globally but people around the world are less concerned about the virus than in previous months: 47% saying they are still worried about the virus now vs. 63% back in April. According to Ipsos MORI's poll, the UK is the country most concerned about the coronavirus (69%), followed by Chile, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia (all on 65%)”1.

Levels of concern about catching the coronavirus (COVID-19) varies significantly internationally. Within Europe, people in the UK have relatively high levels of concern (45%). Concern is higher in Italy (52%), France (51%) and Sweden (48%) – where the Swedish authorities chose not to go into lockdown despite the increasing infection and death rates. However, the concern is lower in other Nordic countries like Finland (25%), Denmark (34%) and Norway (35%). Germany also has a similar level of concern compared to the Nordic countries (34%). Although, some regional authorities in Germany have imposed local lockdowns in areas where the infection rate has spiked. Concern about catching the coronavirus (COVID-19) is much higher in Asia-Pacific (APAC) countries such as Malaysia (86%), the Philippines (83%), Vietnam (77%), and Japan (75%). Concern in the USA (55%) is higher than in the UK, as across the US, states are pausing their plans to lift lockdowns2.

YouGov conducted a poll across 26 countries to understand peoples top concerns linked to the coronavirus pandemic. It is interesting to see that the list of countries divides into two groups: those very worried about their finances and those very worried about the harm to society. This study shows that people in south-eastern Asian countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia are those concerned the most overall about the impacts of the coronavirus and especially about the impact of the virus on their finances. On the other end, Nordic countries are much less concerned about the impact of the coronavirus and their main concerns are linked to the harm the pandemic has caused society. Brits are mainly worried about the the impact of the pandemic on their children’s education (27%) and to society in general (26%). Amongst American countries, Mexicans shows a high level of concern about the virus's impact on their finances but also their concerns that their friends & family will become unwell or die (59% both). In the US, like the UK, people are more worried about the virus's impact on society (35%) and to their children’s education (30%). Concerns for personal health tend to be near or at the bottom of the list in most countries, the exceptions being Sweden and Denmark.3.

Different governments have introduced different measures to manage the COVID-19 outbreak. Support for government measures varies internationally. YouGov's International COVID-19 tracker, shows that the UK (43%), the USA (41%) and Mexico (31%) are amongst the countries with the lowest levels of support for the measures their respective governments have introduced. In the UK, while confidence in the Governments ability to manage the pandemic is low, confidence in the NHS's ability to handle the virus is high (85%). In contrast, Mexicans are more concerned about the capacity of Mexico's health system and its ability to cope with the volume of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases: only 36% of Mexicans think that their health systems will cope4.  In comparison, data from many APAC countries shows higher levels of confidence in various governments handling of the pandemic. For instance in Malaysia  94% are confident in their governments policies as are 89% of those in Taiwan5.


While peoples attitudes and concerns may vary internationally, most people across the world are adopting behaviours that reduce the spread of the virus. YouGov’s polling found that 69% of the Brits are avoiding crowded places. Similarly, in many other European countries around 60% are also avoiding these spaces. Across the Atlantic 63% of US citizens are also avoiding crowds and public spaces. The proportion is higher amongst APAC countries where more than eight out ten respondents in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines say they are avoiding crowded places6.

While the use of face masks continues to vary internationally, in most countries we see their adoption increasing. According to YouGov's COVID-19 Tracker people in Spain (86%), Italy (81%) and France (78%) are the most likely to use face masks in Europe. In the UK an increasing number of people are wearing face coverings, but the proportion of people doing so is still below most other European countries (31%).

As noted in our previous blogs, the use of face masks is far higher in APAC countries, where a vast majority of people in Singapore (92%), Malaysia (89%), Hong Kong (86%), Taiwan (85%), Indonesia (85%), Thailand (84%), China (82%), the Philippines (82%) and Indonesia (82%) wear coverings in public. People in the US are also more likely to wear face masks than people in the UK, as of 22nd June seven out of ten Americans say they use them in public places7.

Social distancing has had an impact on the habits and emotions of people around the world. An Ipsos-MORI poll shows that about one third of people around the world said they were suffering from a lack of exercise especially in Japan (38%), South Korea (37%), Italy (33%), China (31%). In the UK a lack of exercise is one of the top concerns along with over eating (both 25%). Additionally, in the UK almost three out of ten are suffering from general anxiety (28%)8.


[1] Ipsos MORI, ‘What worries the world: 13 of the 27 surveyed nations cited COVID-19 as the top concern’, June 2020 (Source:

[2] YouGov, ‘COVID-19 fears’, March – July 2020 (Source:

[3] YouGov, ‘International COVID-19 tracker’ March-July 2020 (Source:

[4] YouGov, ‘Government handling and confidence in health authorities’, March-July 2020 (Source:

[5] YouGov, ‘International COVID-19 Tracker Update: 15 June’ June 2020 (Source:

[6] YouGov, ‘Personal measures taken to avoid COVID-19’  March – June 2020 (Source:

[7] YouGov, ‘Personal measures taken to avoid COVID-19’  March – June 2020 (Source:

[8] Ipsos MORI, ‘More suffering from under exercising, anxiety than other health concerns due to COVID-19’, May 2020, (Source:


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