Britons blame Chinese government and 'wet markets' for the coronavirus crisis

A woman in a protective face mask walks through Brixton Market in south London. (Victoria Jones/PA)

Three-quarters of Britons blame the Chinese government for allowing coronavirus to spread to the UK, research published today reveals.

Data from a Survation poll showed that 74% of British adults believe “the Chinese government is to blame for allowing COVID-19 to spread”, while 19% said they do not believe it is to blame.

Of 1,001 adults polled on behalf of the Henry Jackson Society, a neoconservative think-tank, 83% said that the British government should demand an international inquiry into the response of the Chinese government to the COVID-19 crisis.

Last week a YouGov poll showed that a majority of Britons believe COVID-19 originated in a live animal market in China, and that such animal markets should be banned.

While Britons blame the Chinese government for the coronavirus outbreak, support for Boris Johnson has surged during the crisis. (Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)

The research revealed that a clear majority (70%) of the British public think that it’s at least probably true that the source of COVID-19 was a live animal market in China, and of those people, 17% consider the theory to be definitely true.

The findings come as scientists continue to look for the exact source of the virus, with some pointing to the live animal markets as the key origin.

Public opinion of how the British government has handled the crisis is also split: even as prominent figures such as Tony Blair have criticised the government’s handling of the crisis, Boris Johnson has seen a surge in popularity.

The majority of people (51%) now have a favourable opinion of the prime minister, up 17 percentage points from early March before lockdown measures were enacted, according to Ipsos MORI.

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The Ipsos MORI study was conducted between 10 April and 13 April, as Johnson was discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital and travelled to his country residence of Chequers to recuperate, with 1,069 participants taking part.

The public have also become more favourable towards the Tories since last month, the poll suggests, with the Conservative Party’s popularity increasing by seven percentage points.

The coronavirus is believed by 70% of Britons to have been born in stalls selling live game in Wuhan late last year. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Dr Alan Mendoza, co-author of the Henry Jackson Society’s Coronavirus Compensation? report, released earlier this month, spoke to Yahoo News UK about the survey’s findings.

He said: When we at the Henry Jackson Society issued our landmark report outlining possible legal actions to be taken against China over the spread of coronavirus, we did so from the perspective of seeking justice. The British public clearly agrees this should be a priority. 

”It's now up to the government to act on its promise this week that there will be no 'business as usual' with China post-pandemic, and that it's listening to the British people's views about who is to blame and how they can be held responsible."

When asked who was to blame for COVID-19 reaching Britain, 45% of respondents said they believe that the Chinese government is mainly to blame for the damage caused in the UK by coronavirus, 15% said the UK government is mainly to blame, and 31% believe that the UK and Chinese governments are equally to blame.   

Coronavirus deaths in the UK had risen 449 to 16,509 by Monday lunchtime.

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