The Jakarta Post
Indonesians are more anxious about COVID-19 — a disease brought on by the fast-spreading Wuhan coronavirus — than their regional neighbors, according to a recent survey by global public opinion and data company YouGov.
The international study, which surveyed some 27,000 people in 23 countries and regions, measures the level of coronavirus concerns across the globe.
Indonesia ranked second after China as the country most concerned about the deadly outbreak, which has killed more than 1,800 globally.
Conducted from Jan. 31 to Feb. 11, the survey found that 72 percent of respondents in the archipelago considered COVID-19 a “major threat” to public health, despite Indonesia having no confirmed cases of the disease so far.
Mainland China — home to the outbreak’s epicenter, Wuhan city in Hubei province — ranks first on the index, with 77 percent of its citizens viewing the virus as a huge threat to their homeland.
In terms of viewing the virus as “major threat” at home, Indonesia ranked first among Southeast Asian countries surveyed, including Thailand (71 percent), the Philippines (70 percent), Malaysia (62 percent) and Singapore (58 percent), all of which have recorded coronavirus cases.
The study also found that 84 percent of Indonesians believe the virus poses “a major threat to public health anywhere in the world” — more than any other citizens of surveyed countries, including China, where only 69 percent of the people think so.
The report revealed that respondents living in the Asia-Pacific region — where most of the coronavirus cases are recorded — had expressed a higher level of anxiety over the epidemic in general than any other region in the world.
In the Middle East, for instance, Saudi Arabia ranks first (66 percent) in terms of viewing the virus as a huge threat, followed by Kuwait (60 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (56 percent).
The survey also finds that people in some countries of Europe and the United States are less threatened by the virus than any other people in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East.
For instance, only 27 percent of respondents in the United States, 23 percent in the United Kingdom and 19 percent in Germany think of the COVID-19 as a major threat to their home countries.
As of Tuesday, more than a month since the virus has spread globally and infected more than 70,000 people worldwide, Indonesian authorities still claim that the country has zero coronavirus infections on its soil, though at least four Indonesian nationals have been reported to have contracted the virus abroad.
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi confirmed on Tuesday that three Indonesian crew members aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship anchored off the coast of Japan had tested positive for COVID-19.
Earlier this month, an Indonesian woman working in Singapore was tested positive of the virus and has been under intensive care at the Singapore General Hospital.
At least 102 specimens tested by the Health Ministry in Indonesia have been declared negative of the Wuhan coronavirus so far.