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Number of Russians ‘panicking’ because of coronavirus plunges, says poll

The researchers offered 12 risks to choose, those who picked the maximum number (nine and more) we categorized as ‘panicking’

MOSCOW, April 2. /TASS/. The number of people ‘panicking’ amid the coronavirus pandemic in Russia has dropped dramatically, from one-third to one-fourth, head of the Russian Public Opinion Research Center Valery Fedorov said Thursday.

The results are based on a poll conducted among 1,600 respondents aged over 18. Telephone interviews were conducted in two waves, on March 16, 2020, and on March 24-25, 2020. The poll’s margin of error stands at 2.5%. Fedorov also noted that the third wave was conducted on April 1, but these results are yet to be integrated.

The respondents were split into three groups depending on how many risks and fears they could relate to. "Overall, we offered 12 risks to choose from. Those who picked the maximum number (nine and more) we categorized as ‘panicking’. Those who chose between six and nine - ‘concerned’, while those who identified between two and five fears as applicable to them were described as ‘balanced’, which means that they are also worried but much less than those ‘panicking’ or ‘concerned’," Fedorov explained.

"There is certain dynamics between two waves. It is interesting to have a look how their shares changed in one week. I can tell you now that the ‘panicking’ share plunged in one week, from one-third to one-fourth. We can say that the first fear has passed. It manifested, as we know, in raids on shops in particular. There are fewer ‘panicking’ people - around 26%," the pollster director said, adding that there are more ‘balanced’ people now, with their share rising from 30% to 38%. The number of ‘concerned’ people has remained unchanged - 36%. Fedorov also underscored that the ‘panicking’ group has a lot of youngsters, with 40% of respondents aged between 18 and 34 falling under this category. "The number of Russians with university degrees has an even bigger number of ‘panicking’ (51%)." "For in much wisdom there is much sorrow," he added.

When asked whether the country is going through the roughest times now, 14% and 18% of the first and second wave respondents said yes, 57% of the first wave respondents and 55% of the second wave ones believe that they are yet to come, while 19% and 17% said we are past the worst. "We can say that the share of those who is worried, who believes that we are in a crisis and that it will only worsen in the future, stands at around 71%-73%, almost three-fourth of Russians," he stressed.

What Russians fear

The fears of Russians were also analyzed. "We analyzed four levels here. We asked the respondents to assess the situation in their specific lives, in their city or town, in our country and in the world in general. So, the situation in lives of our citizens is close to brilliant, 68% say that it is good and normal, with only 29% saying it is bad. These are the first wave data. The second wave data changed a little but not much - 70% and 26%," the pollster director noted.

The main fear for 74% of the second wave respondents is increased social injustice, while 58% fear that they will be refused free medical care or are scared that the free medical help will be of poor quality (64% feared that in the first wave). The fear of an epidemic outbreak (including coronavirus spread) rose from 57% to 59%, fear that ordinary goods will become more expensive dropped by six percentage points to 57%. The fear that Russia’s conflicts with other countries will exacerbate decreased from 59% to 53%, 53% of Russians fear that incomes will be lower, 49% say they are afraid of health issues. Meanwhile, domestic unrest worry 40%, 42% scared to lose jobs, 38% fear crime influx, while only 26% are scared salaries and pensions will not be paid in time, and the lowest of all fears is family conflicts feared by 9%.

Coronavirus pandemic

In late December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. To date, more than 938,000 people have been infected worldwide and over 47,000 deaths have been reported. That said, over 195,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.

So far, a total of 3,548 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 235 patients having recovered from the virus. The country’s latest data indicates 30 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.