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Fear of coronavirus declines

11/2020, 17.04.2020

The fourth survey of the "BfR-Corona-Monitor" shows fewer people in Germany are worried about the consequences of an infection

For months, the novel coronavirus has been causing the world fear and concern. However, a change in perception seems to be emerging in Germany. This is the result of the "BfR-Corona-Monitor", a regular survey by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). While in the previous week 40 percent of the respondents stated that they considered the consequential harms of an infection with the coronavirus to be large, this figure has now dropped to 26 percent. "Young people in particular no longer consider the health impacts to be this large", says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel.

The risk of certain infection pathways is also perceived differently by now. A smear infection via door handles, cash or toys is considered less crucial than in the first survey of the BfR-Corona-Monitor three weeks ago. Proximity to other people is still regarded as a main path of infection by 74 percent, but a slight decline has also been observed over the past few weeks.

The changed perception may explain why the acceptance of certain protective measures continues to decrease. In comparison to a few weeks earlier, the curfew and closures of most shops in particular are rated as appropriate by fewer and fewer respondents. Nevertheless, most people take measures to protect themselves or their family from an infection. Compared to the previous week, however, the proportion of people who stated that they actively avoided the public fell by ten percentage points to 42 percent. More than 20 percent still say that they wear protective clothing such as masks.

It is also noticeable that the possible health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are currently receding into the background. For instance, 36 percent of those surveyed think that they will be more affected by the economic than by the health impacts. In contrast, 24 percent consider the health consequences to be greater. 13 percent assume that they will be affected neither health-wise nor economically.

For the first time, the current issue of the BfR-Corona-Monitor surveyed how the respondents evaluate the overall media coverage of the novel coronavirus. The majority views the reporting to be appropriate, about one third considers it to be exaggerated.

The BfR is continually updating its FAQs on the topic of coronavirus, in light of the dynamically changing situation.

About the BfR-Corona-Monitor

The BfR-Corona-Monitor is a recurring (multi-wave) representative survey of the German population's perception of risks from the novel coronavirus. Since 24 March 2020, around 500 randomly selected people have been asked by telephone every Tuesday about their perception of the risk of infection and the protective measures they have taken, amongst other things. A summary of the data is regularly published on the homepage of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. More information about the method and sample can be found in publications about the BfR-Corona-Monitor.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the German federal government and German federal states ("Laender") on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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