Australian Bureau of Statistics releases survey into household impacts of coronavirus lockdown

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A new survey shows how Aussies are coping with the coronavirus outbreak and why the country may have been so successful in containing infections.

A new survey has shed light on why Australia may have been so successful at driving down coronavirus infections.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released its first survey today looking at the household impacts of COVID-19. It collected information from 1059 people via telephone between March 31 and April 6.

According to the survey, a staggering 98 per cent of Australians said they had been practising social distancing.

If this is accurate, it may explain Australia’s extraordinary success in containing the virus.

Earlier modelling suggested at least 80 per cent of people would need to quarantine themselves to have any impact on reducing new infections.

If 90 per cent quarantined themselves, cases were predicted to fall to about 10 cases a day within three months.

Cases in Australia have now dropped to zero in some states including Queensland and South Australia, with less than 50 new cases reported across Australia after a month of restrictions.

The survey also found about 88 per cent of those surveyed were avoiding public spaces and public events, and about 87 per cent had cancelled personal gatherings.

About 87 per cent reported washing their hands and/or using sanitiser more than usual over the previous four weeks, while 13 per cent reported washing their hands and/or using sanitiser about the same as usual.

“The majority of Australians are adhering to public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” ABS household surveys program manager Michelle Marquardt said.

She said about one in six Australians (17 per cent) were wearing a face mask and about 52 per cent of those aged 18 and over had changed or cancelled their travel plans in March due to COVID-19.

Australians are also heeding messages to get a flu vaccination, with 2.2 million already vaccinated this year, with another 12.2 million aged 18 and over intending to get the jab.

About 4.9 million do not intend to have a flu vaccination this year.

The survey also found the coronavirus outbreak had caused many to lose their jobs but not everyone is worse off.

A worker stacking shelves at Coles.

Australians who said they had a paid job dropped by 3 per cent from 66 per cent in early March, to 63 per cent in early April.

There was an even bigger drop in the number of people who said they had a job working paid hours, which fell 6 per cent from 64 per cent to 56 per cent.

About 24 per cent were working less hours.

However, the survey also found about 12 per cent of Australians aged 18 and over were working more hours than usual due to COVID-19.

Australia has seen an increased demand for staff in supermarkets such as Coles due to panic buying of certain goods. There has also been increased demand for nurses, aged care workers, counsellors and social workers.

Despite the survey results showing Australians are taking a range of precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, about 68 per cent of people were still concerned or very concerned about their health.

The ABS plans to release more information about the experiences and impacts of COVID-19 on households over the next few months, including how stimulus payments were spent.

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