Majorities in 24 Countries Surveyed Concerned of MERS Cases Presenting in Their Country in the Near Future

Awareness Not Yet Widespread but Support for Screening Travelers, Reconsidering Travel Plans is High

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New York — On the heels of being declared to not yet be a health emergency by the World Health Organization, majorities in 24 countries nonetheless express concern that there might be cases of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in their country in the near future. MERS is an outbreak in certain countries of a virus that people are comparing to SARS which occurred in 2003. The poll, released by global company Ipsos provided exclusively to Reuters, finds that awareness is still not high as only minorities in all but six of all countries studied have seen, read or heard about MERS.

The study was conducted online in 24 countries and will be viewed as a benchmark for future studies. The 24 countries are analyzed as two separate cohorts: “developed nations” and “developing nations.”

  • The first cohort includes the views of those in 15 developed nations: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the United States. In these countries, the samples are reflective of the general population.
  • The second cohort includes the views of those in 9 developing nations: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey. In these countries the online respondents are more likely to have higher levels of income and education compared to their respective populations. As such, this vanguard population is more likely to be tuned into reports of MERS due to their access to the internet and other media/information and also because they are likely to be more engaged in the economy and travel as “Upper Deck Consumer Citizens.”

In the 15 more developed nations studied, four in ten (39%) are aware of MERS, while in the 9 developing countries of upper deck consumer citizens, half (49%) are aware. A majority in both cohorts – 59% generally (and 65% of those aware) across the 15 countries and 70% generally (and 78% of those aware) across the 9 countries – are concerned that MERS may come to their country in the near future. In both regions, awareness of MERS increases likelihood of concern.

Only two in ten (18%) generally of all in the 15 countries (28% of those aware), but double (40%) the general upper deck consumer population in the 9 developing nations (55% of those aware), agree they “know enough about MERS to protect their families and themselves”.

The vast majority of respondents in both country groupings agree (strongly and somewhat) that travelers entering their country who have been in MERS-affected countries should be screened by health professionals first (80% of the aggregate of the 15 countries, 90% of the 9).

Majorities in all countries studied agree that they would consider cancelling or delaying travel if they found out the country they wanted to visit has experienced any cases of MERS (72% of the aggregate of the 15 countries, 82% of the 9).

Four in ten in the general populations of those in the 15 more developed nations (38%– 42% among those aware of MERS) and six in ten of the general upper deck consumer citizens (57%– 60% among those aware of MERS) in the nine countries surveyed agree that their government has taken appropriate steps to screen travelers entering their country to prevent spread of MERS.

Only Minorities Aware of MERS…

There has been some reference recently to an outbreak in certain countries of a virus that people are comparing to SARS which occurred in 2003. In the past couple of weeks, the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Control issued assessments of a coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, which has been recently named MERS, for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. There are concerns that the virus may be spreading from person to person and some have called for urgent investigations to find the source of the virus and how it is infecting people. At the time of fielding of the survey, there were 40 confirmed infections with the virus as of early June. Of those cases, 20 were fatal. Most of the cases have been in Saudi Arabia, other countries that have reported cases are Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Britain and France.

Four in ten (39%) of those in the 15 more developed nations studied are aware of MERS while half (49%) in the 9 developing countries of upper deck consumer citizens are aware.

Awareness among the 15 developed nations surveyed is highest in France (59%), Sweden (51%) and Italy (49%) and lowest in Australia (20%), Spain (26%) and Hungary (28%). In the nine developing countries surveyed awareness is highest in China (67%), India (63%) and Saudi Arabia (62%) and lowest in South Africa (35%), Mexico (35%) and Brazil (35%).

…Yet Concern is High…

Respondents were asked the extent to which they concerned that there might be cases of MERS in their country in the near future and majorities agree. In fact, a majority in both cohorts – 59% generally (and 65% of those aware) across the 15 countries and 70% generally (and 78% of those aware) across the 9 countries – are concerned. In both regions, awareness of MERS increases likelihood of concern.

In the developed nations, the most concerned are from: Argentina (77%), Spain (65%) and Italy (64%) while the least concerned are from: Sweden (39%), Poland (47%) and Germany (51%). Of the upper deck consumer citizens, the strongest concern is found in: Indonesia (84%), Mexico (78%) and India (75%) while the weakest concern is found in: China (52%), Saudi Arabia (62%) and South Africa (63%).

Majorities Feel Unprepared…

At the point of fielding, only two in ten (18%) of those in the 15 developed countries (28% of those aware) agree they “know enough about MERS to protect their families and themselves.” These numbers double among the developing nations as four in ten (40%) of the general upper deck consumer population in the nine developing nations (55% of those aware) agree. Argentina (26%), South Korea (25%) and Italy (22%) are most likely to agree among the 15 developed nations while Spain (12%), Belgium (14%) and Australia (14%) are least likely. China (58%), Indonesia (58%) and India (56%) and Saudi Arabia (56%) are most likely among the nine developing nations to agree while South Africa (21%), Turkey (24%) and Russia (27%) are least likely to agree.

Travel Considerations Deemed Important…

Respondents seem to view travel as an important factor as they express concern for both incoming travelers entering their country and for themselves as potential outgoing travelers to affected regions.

The vast majority of respondents in both country groupings agree (80% of the aggregate of the 15 countries, 90% of the 9) that “travelers entering my country who have been in any of the countries where MERS has been present should be screened by a health professional before entering.” Those most likely to agree, in the 15 countries, are from Australia (89%), Italy (89%), Canada (88%) and Argentina (88%). Those least likely to agree are from South Korea (55%), Sweden (62%) and Poland (77%). Those most likely to agree, in the 9 countries, are from China (93%), Indonesia (93%) and Saudi Arabia (93%). Those least likely to agree are from Brazil (84%), India (85%) and Mexico (87%).

Softer majorities agree they “will consider cancelling or delaying travel if I found out the country I wanted to visit had experienced any cases of MERS” (72% of the aggregate of the 15 countries, 82% of the 9). Those most likely to agree, in the 15 countries, are from Hungary (81%), Japan (78%) and South Korea (78%) while those least likely to agree are from Poland (62%), Belgium (63%) and Great Britain (63%). Those most likely to agree, in the 9 countries, are from China (96%), Indonesia (87%) and Russia (86%) while those least likely to agree are from Brazil (75%), Saudi Arabia (76%) and South Africa (78%).

Minority in Developed, Majority in Developing Countries Agree Governments Have Taken Proper Steps…

Four in ten in the general populations of those in the 15 more developed nations (38%– 42% among those aware of MERS) agree that their “government has taken appropriate steps to screen travelers coming into my country to prevent the spread of MERS”. Confidence on this measure appears considerably higher among the developed nine, as six in ten of the general upper deck consumer citizens (57%– 60% among those aware of MERS) agree with the statement.

Those most likely to agree, in the 15 countries, are from South Korea (56%), Argentina (44%) and Japan (44%) while those least likely to agree are from Great Britain (28%), Spain (31%) and Italy (33%). Those most likely to agree, in the 9 countries, are from China (90%), Saudi Arabia (77%) and Indonesia (62%) while those least likely to agree are from South Africa (25%), Mexico (46%) and Turkey (50%).

These are findings of the Global @dvisor wave fielded June 4th to June 18th, 2013. The monthly Global @dvisor data output is derived from a balanced online sample in 24 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. For the results of the survey presented herein, an international sample of 19,014 adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and age 16-64 in all other countries, were interviewed. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel with the exception of Argentina, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey, where each have a sample approximately 500+. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval. In this case, a poll of 1,000 is accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and one of 500 is accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points in their respective general populations. In countries where internet penetration is approximately 60% or higher the data output is weighted to reflect the general population. Of the 24 countries surveyed, 15 yield results that are representative: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States. The nine remaining countries surveyed –Brazil (45.6% Internet penetration among the citizenry), China (41%), India (11.4%), Indonesia (22.1%), Mexico (36.5%), Russia (47.7%), Saudi Arabia (49%), South Africa (17.4%) and Turkey (45.7%)—have lower levels of connectivity therefore cannot be weighted to be general population representative; however, the online sample in these countries are particularly valuable in their own right as the are more urban/educated/income than their fellow citizens and are often referred to as “Upper Deck Consumer Citizens”.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

John Wright
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Global Public Affairs
416.324.2002
john.wright@ipsos.com

For all Reuters/Ipsos Polls go to: http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/reuters-polls/

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. In October 2011 Ipsos completed the acquisition of Synovate. The combination forms the world’s third largest market research company.

With offices in 85 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,789 billion (2.300 billion USD) in 2012.

Visit www.ipsos.com to learn more about Ipsos’ offerings and capabilities.

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Majorities in 24 Countries Surveyed Concerned of MERS Cases Presenting in Their Country in the Near Future

Contact

John Wright
Senior Vice President, US
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1.416.324.2002
john.wright@ipsos.com