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Population still considers coronavirus pandemic relevant

25/2020, 11.08.2020

Interim results of the BfR Corona Monitor launched in March show trends in the perception of the pandemic

Since 27 March 2020, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has regularly published the results of the "BfR Corona Monitor". The recurring survey has been documenting for 20 weeks now how the population in Germany perceives the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and what concerns people are particularly affected by. "Although a certain habituation effect to the pandemic can be observed in the population, the topic is still relevant for them," comments BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel on the current interim results of the study. "Most people actively inform themselves about what is happening, comply with government regulations and take measures voluntarily to prevent an infection with the virus."

An overview of important trends:

Concern about the impact of the coronavirus
Since June, the survey participants have been asked to what extent they are concerned about possible effects of the novel coronavirus on different areas of life. This reveals that the concern about one's own economic situation and social relationships tends to be somewhat more pronounced than the concern about one's own physical and mental health. On average, older people are more concerned about their physical health than younger people.

The role of the sources of infection
Since March, the survey has been tracking how the population views different transmission pathways for the novel coronavirus. The majority (63 percent in the current survey) always rates the probability of contracting coronavirus through proximity to other people as high. Contact with door handles (47 percent) comes in second place. Other possible means of transmission include cash, toys, dishes and cutlery. Infection via clothing, food or pets, on the other hand, was rated as comparatively low at almost all times.

Acceptance of the measures taken by the state
The measures introduced by the Federal Government and the Länder to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus were met with great acceptance by the population in Germany immediately after their introduction in March. Although the majority always supported the measures, acceptance declined significantly in some cases over the following months. For example, 92 percent of the population considered the contact restrictions to be appropriate at first, whereas only 67 percent did so at the beginning of May. The partially relaxed measures, which are now in force, are largely perceived positively by the respondents. In the current survey, 80 percent of the participants consider the relaxed contact restrictions to be appropriate.

A similar pattern can be observed for the mandatory use of masks. While it had a high acceptance rate of 86 percent immediately after its introduction in April, this figure dropped to as much as 73 percent after a few weeks (survey of 12 May 2020). Now, after the mandatory use of masks has been in place for several weeks, the acceptance of this measure has risen significantly - 92 percent currently consider the measure to be appropriate.

The importance of the media
Throughout the entire survey period, the majority of the respondents felt well informed about what was happening around the novel coronavirus. Nevertheless, a slight downward trend can be observed in the course of the last few weeks: While in March and April more than 70 percent of respondents consistently stated that they felt well informed, in recent weeks this figure has dropped to just over 60 percent. All in all, television is the most frequently mentioned information channel by the respondents at all times. In the 14-39 age group, however, the internet is also very often used as a source of information (72 percent in the current week). The use of social media for information purposes is also highest in this age group (currently 46 percent).

What happens next?
The BfR Corona Monitor will continue in August. The survey will continue to be carried out every two weeks and will comprise around 1,000 people at a time.

The BfR is continually updating its FAQs on the topic of coronavirus.

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. Every week between 24 March and 26 May 2020, around 500 randomly selected people were asked by telephone about their assessment of the risk of infection and their protective measures, among other things. Since June 2020, the survey is continued every two weeks with about 1,000 respondents each. 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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