Measures for effective control of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic include identifying the causal organisms, applying appropriate therapies, and developing vaccines, as well as improving understanding among the general public. To evaluate the knowledge, awareness, perception, and response of the general public to COVID-19 in China. A detailed questionnaire comprising 47 questions designed in both English and Chinese was developed. The survey was conducted via WeChat, a multipurpose messaging, social media, and mobile payment app that is widely used by the Chinese population. In total, 1006 participants responded, and most of them were from different provinces of mainland China. Overall, this comprehensive survey revealed that the general public in China is highly aware of the basic information concerning COVID-19 and its precautions. Interestingly, more respondents (99.3%) were aware of the term severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) than COVID-19 (97.2%) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) (73.4%). Among them, 2.4%, 1.6%, and 0.9% said that they or their family members or friends were affected by COVID-19, SARS, and MERS, respectively. The majority of the respondents (91.2%) indicated that knowledge about COVID-19 was received mainly from WeChat, followed by TV (89%), friends (76.1%), and QQ (a Chinese instant messaging software service) (57.7%). The general public in China is highly aware of COVID-19 and the necessary precautions. Unexpectedly, 2.8% of the participants were unaware of the current epidemic. The remaining information gaps highlight the necessity of further enhancing awareness and preparedness. ©The Author(s) 2021. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.