This is not the latest release View the latest release

Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey

Insights into the prevalence and nature of impacts from COVID-19 on households in Australia.

Reference period
February 2022
Released
16/03/2022

Key statistics

  • In February 2022, 47% of Australians reported a household member had a COVID-19 test in the past four weeks.
  • 26% reported the job situation of a household member changed in the past four weeks due to COVID-19.
  • 98% reported wearing a face mask in the last week, compared with 44% in June 2021.

This is the first Household Impacts of COVID-19 survey since June 2021. The February 2022 survey was run from 9 to 18 February 2022 via telephone interviews. Over 3,400 participants of the June 2021 survey were approached again with 2,305 fully responding (67% of the previous panel).

The results for all past surveys can be accessed by selecting ‘View all releases.’

While some topics are the same as in previous surveys, relying exclusively on telephone interviews differs from the past monthly iterations of the 2021 survey, which gathered information via both telephone interviews and online forms. Where results are compared over time, comparisons are made based on the weighted representative data for each survey. See the Methodology section for more information.

Respondents to the survey were people aged 18 years and over in private dwellings across Australia (excluding very remote areas).

COVID-19 context

At the time of the survey, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 had led to widespread cases in most states and territories. To manage the spread of the Omicron variant, many states and territories reintroduced or maintained a range of restrictions. This included facemask mandates, as well as changes to check in, contact tracing and isolation requirements.

At home Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) became available for use alongside Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests.

Symptoms and testing

The survey asked about household experiences with COVID-19 symptoms, tests, and positive cases in the past four weeks.

    Household experiences with COVID-19 symptoms, a COVID-19 test and/or a positive test result in the past four weeks

    Household experiences with COVID-19 symptoms, tests and results.

    Household experiences with COVID-19 symptoms, a COVID-19 test and/or a positive test result in the past four weeks

    In February 2022, Australians reported that someone in the household in the past four weeks:
    • had one or more symptoms of COVID-19 (18%)
    • had any COVID-19 test (47%) (includes tests undertaken by those without symptoms).

    Of those in households where someone had been tested, 17% reported one or more household members had tested positive to a COVID-19 test.

    Symptoms include cough, fever, difficulty breathing, sore throat, tiredness, joint aches, headache, runny or stuffy nose, any changes in taste or smell, nausea and/or vomiting, chills.

    Tests includes Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests.

    In February 2022, Australians reported that someone in the household in the past four weeks:

    • had one or more symptoms of COVID-19 (18%)
    • had any COVID-19 test (47%) (includes tests undertaken by those without symptoms).

    Of those in households where someone had been tested, 17% reported one or more household members had tested positive to a COVID-19 test.

    The proportion of positive COVID-19 cases relates only to the households reporting someone had taken a COVID-19 test in the four weeks prior to the survey. The data is not directly comparable with official measures of positive COVID-19 cases reported from health surveillance systems.

    COVID-19 tests include Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests.

    Precautions

    Australians in February 2022 were more likely to take precautions because of the spread of COVID-19, than in June 2021:  

    • Over twice as many Australians (98%) reported wearing a face mask in February 2022 compared with June 2021 (44%)
    • 95% of people reported washing hands or using hand sanitiser regularly in February 2022 compared with 85% in June 2021
    • 64% of people reported disinfecting surfaces before using them in February 2022 compared with 43% in June 2021
    • 85% of people kept their physical distance from people compared with 63% in June 2021.
    1. Includes not shaking hands or hugging.
    2. Includes supermarket self-checkout.
    3. February data refers to precautions in the week before the survey was conducted from 9 to 18 February 2022.

    Frequency of activities

    The survey asked respondents how frequently they undertook selected activities one or more times a week in the last four weeks.

    Compared to June 2021, Australians were more likely to participate one or more times a week in the following activities in February 2022:

    • 85% reported going shopping (compared with 77% in June 2021)
    • 50% reported visiting a public park or recreation area (compared with 41% in June 2021)
    • 37% reported visiting bars or restaurants (compared with 31% in June 2021)
    • 30% reported exercising at a gym or playing sports (compared with 25% in June 2021).
    1. Includes shopping in physical stores only.
    2. Includes people 18 years and over with a job at the time of the survey.
    3. Includes social gatherings of 10 or more people.
    4. Usual participation in the activity before COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020.

    School or childcare attendance

    Over one quarter (28%) of Australian households with children aged under 18 years reported their children’s school, preschool or childcare attendance was impacted by COVID-19.

    Australians with children in the household whose childcare and school attendance was impacted by COVID-19, reported:  

    • a child being unable to attend due to being a COVID-19 close contact (20%)
    • school, or childcare being closed due to COVID-19 (16%)
    • a child being unable to attend due to testing positive to COVID-19 (16%)
    • other school or childcare restrictions (16%).

    Current job status

    Respondents were asked simple questions about changes to their job situation, rather than the full suite of employment-related questions included in the ABS’ Labour Force Survey. The results of this survey are not directly comparable to Australia’s official Labour Force measures. For more information refer to the Methodology.

    The proportion of Australians with a job working paid hours has remained similar since June 2021 (66% compared with 63%). In February 2022, the proportion of Australians with a job and not working any paid hours was 2% (down from 6% in June 2021). 

    Persons aged 18 years and over, self-reported job status
     Jan- 21(a)Feb-21(a)Mar-21(b)Apr-21 (a)May-21(a)Jun-21(a)Feb-22(c)
    Has a job67%68%66%67%68%68%68%
    Working paid hours63%64%63%63%63%63%66%
    Not working paid hours4%4%3%5%5%6%2%
    Does not have a paid job(d)33%32%34%33%31%31%31%
    1. Current job status based on changes between each collection.                                         
    2. Current job status based on changes between each collection for previous panel and reported status for new panel members.
    3. Job status reported mid-February 2022.                                                                         
    4. Includes all people without a job and should be considered only a loose approximation for the combined “unemployed” and “not in the labour force” groups.     

    Over two in five (44%) Australians reported that, if they contracted COVID-19, they would be unable to work until recovered or unable to work for the recommended isolation period.

    Around one-quarter (26%) of Australians reported that the job situation of someone in their household had changed in one or more ways due to COVID-19 in the last four weeks. 

    In February 2022, Australians reported that due to COVID-19 someone in their household:

    • was working from home (14%)
    • was unable to work (6%)
    • worked increased hours (5%)
    • worked reduced hours (5%)
    • had different than normal work responsibilities (5%)
    • worked a different pattern of hours (4%).

    Of Australians with someone in their household who had experienced a change in their job situation, the reasons included:

    • concerns about contracting COVID-19 (24%)
    • increased workplace demand (20%)
    • absent work colleagues (20%).

    What's next?

    The ABS will follow up with the panel in March 2022 to undertake the second cycle of the monthly Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey. The topics will include:

    • psychological distress
    • symptoms of COVID-19 and testing
    • changes to job status
    • impact of COVID-19 on school or childcare attendance
    • unpaid work.

    Information from the March survey will be released 12 April 2022.

    The ABS would like to thank all participants for their involvement in the survey. The information collected is of value to inform government and community responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Data downloads

    Tables 1 - 9

    Previous catalogue number

    This release previously used catalogue number 4940.0.