• Stats SA

Respondents are extremely worried about the possible collapse of the economy

Respondents were staying indoors and only left their houses to get food or medicine, according to the COVID-19 behavioural and health perception survey results released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).

The survey was conducted in the week of 13 to 26 April 2020.

More than half (60,1%) of respondents were very concerned or extremely concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their own health. Many of the respondents (93,2%) were very concerned or extremely concerned about the possible economic collapse of the country due to the COVID-19 epidemic, while 79,7% were concerned about the civil disorder that may result as a consequence of the COVID-19 virus.

The report further shows that respondents adhered to the call not to go out to public meetings, with almost all (99,0%) reporting not attending any public events, e.g. church services. Furthermore, the practice of social distancing when going out was a priority for 98,4% of the respondents. Regular handwashing when going out (97,7%) and upon returning after one went out (98,0%) was also important practices to most respondents.

Furthermore, (96,8%) of respondents indicated that they did not get tested since they were of the opinion that they did not have COVID-19. Of those respondents who suspected that they might have been infected by COVID-19, three-quarters (75,8%) did not get tested either. 7,8% said they did not know where to get tested, whilst 6,8% indicated that they either did not have money to get tested; or did not have transport or money for transport (1,4%) to get to the testing facility.

The findings shows that knowledge about the main signs and symptoms of the COVID-19 virus is almost universal, and knowledge about the two main means of transmission of the COVID-19 virus is also high.

The majority of respondents (93,7%) indicated that they or their household members did not need to access health care, while 4,5% responded that they or a household member needed to access health care but had been unable to do so. Those who wanted to but could not access health care, indicated that they could not do so because they were scared of contracting the COVID-19 virus (54,1%), and 25,5% were scared that they might get arrested or fined for being outside their houses.

14,3% of respondents had a chronic condition. Of these, 7,8% of respondents indicated that they were not able to access their chronic medication. The largest share of this group (45%) indicated that they were scared they would be infected. An additional 37,5% were scared to leave the house because they feared being arrested and/or fined. Approximately one-fifth (17,5%) said that they did not have money to get to the pharmacy, clinic or health facility where they could obtain medicines.

64,3% of respondents obtained information on COVID-19 using news outlets. Social media (including Facebook, Instagram and others) was the second most frequently used means of obtaining information on both current public health measures as well as COVID-19 (14,1% and 16,0%, respectively).

According to the findings on self-reported employment, two-thirds (69,1%) of respondents had a full-time job (receiving a monthly salary); 11,6% of respondents were self-employed, whilst 8,1% were unemployed.

By far, most respondents (94,2%) were living in formal dwellings: either a free-standing house, townhouse or a cluster house (81,6%), or in a flat or apartment in a block of flats (12,6%). Less than one per cent (0,9%) lived in an informal dwelling.


This publication will be reporting on the first round, which focused on health related aspects in terms of behaviour, knowledge and perceptions with regard to COVID-19. The second survey will investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and income and expenditure, whilst the third survey will report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education and time use of households.