Poll: Half of Britons ignoring handwashing advice as UK battles coronavirus

By Aine Fox, PA

Half of Britons have taken no measures to protect themselves from coronavirus, a poll suggests.

Despite Government warnings to wash hands and use hand sanitiser, only 35% of people asked said they had taken such steps in recent weeks.

Boris Johnson has said the spread of the coronavirus is likely to become “more significant” for the UK in the coming days, and advised people to wash their hands for the amount of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice, which is about 20 seconds.

Despite daily global headlines, 3% of people said they were not even aware of the illness, according to the YouGov poll, and 54% said they were not taking any extra steps to protect themselves.

While the Prime Minister reassured people they should “go about business as usual”, 14% of those surveyed said they were avoiding crowded public places, and the same number said they were trying not to touch things in public such as lift buttons.

Just 1% said they were wearing masks, and 2% said they were avoiding going to work.

The majority of people (70%) said they were not scared about contracting the virus, and 54% said they felt the Government was handling the issue well, while 64% said they were confident in the NHS being able to respond to an outbreak.

Around a third of people (36%) said they thought all international flights into the UK from countries with confirmed cases of the virus should be stopped.

:: YouGov surveyed 1,618 adults in Great Britain between February 28 and March 1.