Essential Research and Roy Morgan: more coronavirus polling

Two new polls suggest early skepticism about the threat posed by coronavirus is fast disappearing.

As reported by The Guardian, Essential Research has unusually conducted a new poll just a week after the last. This effectively replicates last week’s suite of questions on coronavirus to tie in with an online forum later today involving The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy and Essential Research’s Peter Lewis.

The results show a sharp rise in concern since last week, with 53% now saying they are very concerned, after the three previous fortnightly polls had it progressing from 25% to 27% to 39%. Only 18% now say they consider there has been an overreaction to the thread, down from 33% last week, while 43% now think the threat has been underestimated, up from 28%. These results imply little change to last week’s finding that 39% thought the response about right, though we will presumably have to await publication of the full report later today for a complete set of numbers. The poll also finds overwhelming support for the restrictive measures that have been taken. The rise in concern appears to have been matched by a decline in skepticism about media reportage, which 42% now say they trust, up from 35% last week.

Also out today is a Roy Morgan SMS poll on coronavirus, showing 43% support for the view that the federal government is handling the crisis well with 49% disagreeing — a rather weak result by international standards (it is noted that a similar poll in the United Kingdom a bit under a fortnight ago had it at 49% and 37%). This poll finds an even higher pitch of public concern than Essential, in that only 15% believed the threat to be exaggerated, with fully 81% disagreeing. Relatedly, 80% said they were willing to sacrifice some of their “human rights” to help prevent the spread of the virus (evidently having a somewhat different conception of that term from my own), with only 14% disagreeing. The poll was conducted on Saturday and Sunday from a sample of 988.

UPDATE: Full report from Essential Research here. The recorded increase in concern about the virus is not matched by a change in perceptions of the government’s handling of it, which 45% rate as good, unchanged on last week, and 31% rate as poor, up two. There is also a question on concern about climate change, which refutes the hopes of some conservative commentators in suggesting it has not been affected by the coronavirus crisis: 31% say they are more concerned than they were a year ago, 53% no more or less so, and 16% less concerned. However, the number of respondents saying Australia is not doing enough to address climate change is down from 60% in November to 55%, with doing enough up one to 23% and doing too much up one to 9%. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1086.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

2,376 comments on “Essential Research and Roy Morgan: more coronavirus polling”

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  1. When did compulsory TB screening end in Australia? I recall being tested (poorly) in the early 60s. (3 bumps out of 6 for me.)

  2. According to

    In Australia, the broad-based BCG vaccination program originated at a time when the epidemiological circumstances of tuberculosis (TB) were quite different. Initially in 1948, vaccination targeted health workers, Aboriginal people and close contacts of active cases, especially children. In the 1950s the program was expanded to include all Australian school children except those from New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory . This policy was discontinued in the mid-1980s (1991 in the Northern Territory) in favour of a more selective approach. The change occurred because of the low prevalence of TB in our community and concerns about the balance between the benefits and the risks.


    Elections, ties with China shaped Iran’s coronavirus response
    7 MIN READ
    DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian authorities ignored warnings by doctors in late December and January of an increasing number of patients with high fevers and lung infections in the historic city of Qom, which turned out to be the epicentre of Iran’s coronavirus outbreak, said two health ministry officials, a former ministry official and three doctors.

    Anecdotal accounts of unusual pneumonias in Qom in December. If correct, this suggests the virus would have been circulating in Iran in November, as has been related in both Italy and Wuhan.


    Bat research networks and viral surveillance are assumed to be at odds due to seemingly conflicting research priorities. Yet human threats that contribute to declines in bat populations globally also lead to increased transmission and spread of bat-associated viruses, which may pose a threat to global health and food security. In this review, we discuss the importance of and opportunities for multidisciplinary collaborations between bat research networks and infectious disease experts to tackle shared threats that jeopardize bat conservation as well as human and animal health. Moreover, we assess research effort on bats and bat-associated viruses globally, and demonstrate that Western Asia has limited published research and represents a gap for coordinated bat research. The lack of bat research in Western Asia severely limits our capacity to identify and mitigate region-specific threats to bat populations and detect interactions between bats and incidental hosts that promote virus spillover. We detail a regional initiative to establish the first bat research network in Western Asia (i.e., the Western Asia Bat Research Network, WAB-Net), with the aim of integrating ecological research on bats with virus surveillance to find “win-win” solutions that promote bat conservation and safeguard public and animal health across the region.

    Keywords: Chiroptera, conservation, coronaviruses, Middle East, zoonoses, One Health

  5. My cohort was tested and some given the TB inoculation in 1963.
    I remember one attractive girl fainting in the line leading to the testing point out of sheer fear of the prospect.

    Being the child of immigrants, I (and my parents) had been inoculated before being accepted as migrants, but as I didn’t have any obvious signs of an inoculation scar (in 1953 it was done by grating the skin) I was tested anyway.

  6. I got the mantoux test in Grade 8 in the early 90s. It was a farming community rural Queensland, so i guess would make sense that the testing continued there for longer.

  7. My money is on a call to Houston with a direct line to his mate Moses for intervention. Since the evangelicals I know stick together, there was probably a contingent heading to the Hillsong convention and this pulling of strings would be seen as the norm.

  8. Rates contiue to drop but I expect to see them leveling out soon, as indicated by the lower CI.

    Absolute numbers continue their steady march:

    Might have time for a vector time series analysis tomorrow.


    Subsequent work identified genetically diverse SARSr-CoVs in Chinese horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus sinicus) in a county of Yunnan Province, China and provided strong evidence that bats are the natural reservoir of SARS-CoV (Ge et al. 2013; Li et al. 2005; Yang et al. 2016). Since then, diverse SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoVs) have been detected and reported in bats in different regions globally (Hu et al. 2015). Importantly, SARSr-CoVs that use the SARS-CoV receptor, angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) have been isolated (Ge et al. 2013). These results indicate that some SARSr-CoVs may have high potential to infect human cells, without the necessity for an intermediate host. However, to date, no evidence of direct transmission of SARSr-CoVs from bats to people has been reported.

    In this study, we performed serological surveillance on people who live in close proximity to caves where bats that carry diverse SARSr-CoVs roost. In October 2015, we collected serum samples from 218 residents in four villages in Jinning County, Yunnan province, China (Fig. 1A), located 1.1–6.0 km from two caves (Yanzi and Shitou). We have been conducting longitudinal molecular surveillance of bats for CoVs in these caves since 2011 and have found that they are inhabited by large numbers of bats including Rhinolophus spp., a major reservoir of SARSr-CoVs. This region was not involved in the 2002–2003 SARS outbreaks and none of the subjects exhibited any evident respiratory illness during sampling. Among those sampled, 139 are female and 79 male, and the median age is 48 (range 12–80). Occupational data were obtained for 208 (95.4%) participants: 85.3% farmers and 8.7% students. Most (81.2%) kept or owned livestock or pets, and the majority (97.2%) had a history of exposure to or contact with livestock or wild animals. Importantly, 20 (9.1%) participants witnessed bats flying close to their houses, and one had handled a bat corpse. As a control, we also collected 240 serum samples from random blood donors in 2015 in Wuhan, Hubei Province more than 1000 km away from Jinning (Fig. 1A) and where inhabitants have a much lower likelihood of contact with bats due to its urban setting. None of the donors had knowledge of prior SARS infection or known contact with SARS patients….

    A total of six positive samples were detected by ELISA (Fig. 1B). The specificity of these positive samples was confirmed by Western blot with recombinant Rp3 NP (Fig. 1C) together with NP of NL63, MERS-CoV and EBOV. The degree of reactivity in Western blot correlated well with the ELISA OD readings, providing further confidence in the ELISA screening method. None of the sera reacted with NPs of either MERS-CoV or EBOV. On the other hand, all 10 human sera (9 from Jinning and 1 from Wuhan), regardless of their Rp3 NP reactivity, reacted strongly with the NL63 NP as expected due to high prevalence of NL63 infection in humans worldwide (Abdul-Rasool and Fielding 2010).

    We conducted a virus neutralization test for the six positive samples targeting two SARSr-CoVs, WIV1 and WIV16 (Ge et al. 2013; Yang et al. 2016). None of them were able to neutralize either virus. These sera also failed to react by Western blot with any of the recombinant RBD proteins from SARS-CoV or the three bat SARSr-CoVs Rp3, WIV1, and SHC014. We also performed viral nucleic acid detection in oral and fecal swabs and blood cells, and none of these were positive.

    The demography and travel histories of the six positive individuals (four male, two female) are as follows. Two males (JN162, 45 years old, JN129, 51 years old) are from the Dafengkou village; two males (JN117, 49 years old, JN059, 57 years old) from Lvxi village; and two females (JN053, JN041, both 55 years old), from Tianjing village. In the 12 months prior to the sampling date, JN041 was the only individual who travelled outside of Yunnan, to Shenzhen, a city 1400 km away from her home village (Fig. 1A). JN053 and JN059 had travelled to another county 1.4 km away from their village. JN162 had travelled to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, 63 km away. JN129 and JN117 had never left the village. It is worth noting that all of them had observed bats flying in their villages.

    Our study provides the first serological evidence of likely human infection by bat SARSr-CoVs or, potentially, related viruses. The lack of prior exposure to SARS patients by the people surveyed, their lack of prior travel to areas heavily affected by SARS during the outbreak, and the rapid decline of detectable antibodies to SARS-CoV in recovered patients within 2–3 years after infection strongly suggests that positive serology obtained in this study is not due to prior infection with SARS-CoV (Wu et al. 2007)….

    Published in 2018…

  10. Western Asia represents a unique regional mixing pot of bat species from different zoogeographic regions, with a majority of species found in Western Asia also distributed in other regions of the world (e.g., Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia). Specifically, the 96 bat species native to Western Asia occupy 8 of the 12 (67%) geographic regions designated by IUCN, with over 90% of all species distributed in more than one region (Table S2). For example, Pipistrellus tenuis is widely distributed from the Oceania region (oceanic islands in the Pacific Ocean) westwards into Pakistan and Afghanistan, where its range overlaps with a diversity of species from North Africa and Europe (e.g., Tadarida teniotis, Rousettus aegyptiacus, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, Eptesicus bottae, and Myotis blythii). Within Western Asia, nearly a quarter of all bat species are widely distributed in more than half of the 20 countries that comprise the region, with Pipistrellus kuhlii recorded in all but two countries (i.e., Bahrain and Qatar) (Table S2).

    There remains much to be explored about the effects of overlapping species distributions on viral sharing in the region. Eidolon helvum, the second largest Old World fruit bat in Africa and potential reservoir host for ebolaviruses and other zoonotic pathogens [110,111,112,113], is widespread and panmictic across sub-Saharan Africa but occurs in small areas of Yemen and southwestern Saudi Arabia [40,114,115]. Other bat species found within the region have been linked with viruses of concern to human health in at least part of their geographic range. Rhinolophus hipposideros, a species whose range extends from the United Kingdom, east to China and south to Ethiopia (covering much of South, Central, and Western Asia) [116], has been found to harbor SARS-like CoVs. In Slovenia, for example, nearly 40% of fecal samples collected from R. hipposideros tested positive for SARS-like CoVs, in particular the bat-associated SARS isolate Rp3/2004 [117]. There is also evidence that through cross-species viral sharing, R. hipposideros contributed to a recombinant CoV strain thought to have ancestral linkages to HCoV-NL63 [118], a human-CoV that can account for up to 10% of respiratory infections annually [119]. Given the paucity of research on bat-associated viruses to date and the extensive species overlap from diverse biogeographic regions, Western Asia presents an untapped opportunity to further investigate the factors that determine cross-species viral transmission.

  11. We used to see bats flying around at night at home. My father once suggested to us that we go out and catch some by throwing a weighted cloth in their flight path. Needless to say, we never caught any. I’m kind of glad of that now.

  12. George Gao, director of China’s CDC, has said that the failure to use masks in the U.S. and Europe is a “big mistake.’’ In light of the possibility that people without coronavirus symptoms are spreading the disease, the U.S. CDC is reviewing its guidance on masks. The WHO is also reconsidering its stance.

  13. Seem the virus got a head start at an evangelical hootenany in France too (as it did in Korea and Iran).

    Why our own Hillsong convention hasn’t produced any cases is baffling, although there ARE many “Under Investigation” and “Unknown Origin” cases in NSW. Additionally, only residents of NSW are counted in the NSW figures. Visiting overseas tourists here for a happy clap and a cruise don’t appear to be included.

    I casually met three American couples on the Manly ferry back in January. They were just about to head off on a cruise, next day. One of the women mentioned coming back to Sydney for a convention after the cruise, come to think of it, but didn’t specify what kind of convention. Their ship (in port at the time) was Ovation Of The Seas, a real monster.

  14. Quasar says Friday, April 3, 2020 at 2:30 am

    George Gao, director of China’s CDC, has said that the failure to use masks in the U.S. and Europe is a “big mistake.’’ In light of the possibility that people without coronavirus symptoms are spreading the disease, the U.S. CDC is reviewing its guidance on masks. The WHO is also reconsidering its stance.

    Isn’t one of the cited reasons for not using masks the fact that we have a shortage and they need to be reserved for health care workers and the sick?

    I think there may also be cultural reasons for the reluctance of people in the west to wear a mask.

  15. Gladys has Generalissimo Mick onto the case.

    I’m not sure he’ll have the time, not with his ongoing investigation into Angus. … oh, wait. …

    “ The NSW Premier says she is not going to play the “blame game” over who is responsible for the Ruby Princess cruise ship fiasco, but adds that she has asked the state’s police commissioner to investigate the matter.

    “In hindsight, everybody could have done better in relation to that matter,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.”


    Ya think!

    How about taking responsibility for a lack of foresight Gladys. How about doing the right think and resigning.

    … Gladys went on to say:

    “ “The best advice I’ve received [is that] our authorities in NSW followed all existing protocols.”

    “I don’t think it helps everybody to point fingers and play the blame game.”

    However, Ms Berejiklian added that the federal government is also accountable for the Ruby Princess matter.

    “When it comes to protecting our borders, we have a joint responsibility with the federal government. Normally the states don’t – normally border protection is just a federal issue. But under these difficult circumstances, all of the states have stepped up.”

    Frack me dead. Stepping up – existing protocols. … Two months after the Diamond Princess and she’s falling back on existing protocols. …

    A week before the Ruby Princess docked the NSW government was still encouraging cruise trips. Little wonder given the industry generates 10,000 jobs for the NSW economy and $2.7 billion to the economy with each overseas passenger spending an average of $1,000.00 each in Sydney alone. Such is the exponential growth that P&O has set up its head office here. 600 direct onshore jobs.

    It is in that context that the Liberals, state and federal must be judged. Along with their minions in the relevant agencies.

    As disastrous as the decision to allow the passengers to disembark without proper quarantine procedures being in place is, Mick Fuller and Peter Dutton’s conduct this week borders on the criminal.

    It was Generalissimo Mick that first raised the issue of the cruise ship companies being based on paper in tax havens and their ships flying flags of convenience. Adding in that many of the staff and crew are foreigners. This was a deliberate provocation of a new wave of xenophobia in the community. Designed to allow his Liberal masters tap into the community bigotry and hate that they have carefully cultivated since Tampa. To deflect from their own terrible, awful incompetence. Of course, Dutton resurfaces from witness protection yesterday to put the boot in.

    It have never been a problem for the Liberals to cultivate an industry that is domiciled in a tax haven. Or allow ships flying flags of convenience to birth in Australia. Not when they have been bending over to reap the cash benefits. Not when passengers – many of them Australians – wanted to get off.

    Bit now that it is only workers – the crew and staff – who are stranded, then suddenly it’s ok to let rip. Fuller’s and Dutton’s position is putting lives directly at risk. The lives of workers. Those who have little agency in all of this. Those that are stuck on ships off the NSW coast because they were working – albeit indirectly – in support of the NSW economy, there was Only 7 ships, now 5 ‘loitering’ off the coast. 5 out of hundreds of ships stranded around the world (many of those other ships have Australians on board) and yet the attitude of our leaders seems to be to simply allow these folk to die. Out of sight and out of mind. All so they can deflect from their own incompetence.

    This is probably the worst set of public administration decisions I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime. Simply and utterly disgraceful from start to finish.

  16. bc says:
    Friday, April 3, 2020 at 2:01 am

    We used to see bats flying around at night at home. My father once suggested to us that we go out and catch some by throwing a weighted cloth in their flight path. Needless to say, we never caught any. I’m kind of glad of that now.


    Every night dozens of bats swoop around our building and spend the night in a huge Moreton Bay fig tree.

    About five years ago they culled the bat population in the Sydney Domain. Before then, at dusk, squadrons of thousands of bats were in the skies moving from Domain towards the eastern suburbs. At that time, one evening, I counted 300 bats which had flown into the tree.

    As they approach the tree they fly very close to our balcony and you can hear the flapping wings moving the air. They are beautiful to watch as they find a roost in the loose branches and hang upside down.

    Do these bats or their detritus pose a threat to us.

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