The health concern over COVID-19 in December remained unchanged from November, 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 continues to decline in the first two weeks of December

The health concern over COVID-19 in December averaged at 34% similar to levels recorded in November although concern began to rise in the last week. The concern during the first week of December averaged at 36% compared to 35.7% in the last week of November. The number of new COVID-19 cases recorded between 29 November and 05 December remained similar to the last week of November although the number of deaths increased by 10%, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The African and Americas regions recorded the highest weekly increases in new cases at 79% and 21% respectively.

The concern in the second week of December declined to 32.2% coinciding with the decline in number of new cases and deaths by 5% and 10% respectively, between 6 December and 12 December. The African region, however, reported the highest increase in new cases at 111%, followed by the Western Pacific region at 7%.

Concern falls to lowest levels in the third week before rising in the fourth week

The health concern declined further in the third week to 31.6% as the number of new cases between 13 December and 19 December remained similar to those reported in the previous week. The weekly incidence of deaths, however, declined by 9%. The African and Western Pacific regions continued to report an increase in new cases at 53% and 12% respectively.

The COVID-19 concern increased to 36% in the fourth week with the number of new cases globally increasing by 11% between 20 December and 26 December from the previous week. The increase in cases indicated the rapid spread of the Omicron variant discovered in November. The WHO warned that the risk from the variant is very high and may cause global healthcare systems to become overwhelmed amidst the rising cases. The Americas and African regions reported the highest increases in new cases at 39% and 7% respectively.

The concern increased further towards the end of December to 37% as the number of new cases increased sharply by 71% between 27 December 2021 and 2 January 2022 compared to the previous week. The Americas region reported the largest increase of 100%, followed by South East Asia (78%) and Europe (65%).

The analysis is based on a total of 2716 responses received from the readers of Verdict network sites between 01 and 31 December 2021.