The health concern over COVID-19 in January 2022 increased from December 2021, shows the COVID-19 concern index, which is measured by responses to an ongoing poll Verdict launched in March 2020. The poll has been tracking how the concerns over coronavirus have been changing over time.
The poll asked how concerned the respondents were about the spread of coronavirus and included five options to choose from – very concerned, slightly concerned, neither concerned nor unconcerned, not very concerned, and not concerned.
Concern index is based on respondents who answered that they are very concerned about the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 concern dips marginally in the second week of January
The health concern over COVID-19 in January 2022 averaged at 40.5% increasing from 34% recorded in December 2021 as the Omicron variant continued to spread globally. The concern during the first week of January 2022 averaged at 40% compared to 37.5% in the last week of December 2021.
The number of new COVID-19 cases recorded between 3 January and 9 January increased from the previous week. The six major regions globally reported a 55% increase in new cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The South-East Asia region reported the highest increase in new cases at 418%, followed by the Western Pacific region (122%) and the Eastern Mediterranean region (86%). The WHO noted that the prevalence of the Delta variant declined, while that of the Omicron increased with several countries reporting clusters as well as community transmission.
The concern in the second week of January declined marginally to 39% coinciding with the decline in the case incidence. The six major regions reported a 20% increase in the number of new cases between 10 January and 16 January. The South East Asia region continued to report the highest increase in new cases at 145%, followed by the Eastern Mediterranean region (68%) and the Western Pacific region (38%). The rapid spread of the Omicron variant, increased population movements, and lack of adherence to public health and social measures are expected to lead to an increase in the number of cases, according to the WHO.
Concern rises in second and third weeks of January
The health concern increased in the third week to 41% as the number of new cases between 17 January and 23 January increased by 5% compared to the previous week. More than 21 million new cases were reported during the week, representing the highest number of weekly cases recorded since the start of the pandemic. The highest increase in new cases was reported by the Eastern Mediterranean region at 39%, followed by the South-East Asia region (36%) and the European region (13%).
Several countries continued to report community transmission of the Omicron variant and a rapid increase in the number of new cases. The WHO noted that the overall risk from the variant was very high although the risk of severe disease was lower. The high number of cases is increasing the burden on healthcare systems due to rise in incidence of hospitalisation, the WHO added.
The COVID-19 concern increased further to 43% in the fourth week with the number of new cases globally increasing by 9% between 24 January and 30 January from the previous week. The Western Pacific region reported the highest increase in new cases at 37%, followed by the Eastern Mediterranean region (24%) and the European region (7%).
The analysis is based on a total of 661 responses received from the readers of Verdict network sites between 01 and 31 January 2022.