The British public’s concern about coronavirus remains at record levels even though the infection rate has fallen, a poll has found.
Data from Ipsos Mori shows that three quarters of Britons see COVID-19 as one of the biggest issues facing the nation.
The level of worry about coronavirus now is even higher than it was in June, when more deaths were being reported each day.
Ipsos Mori’s Issues Index, which surveyed more than 1,000 Britons, found that 75% of people see coronavirus as the most important subject facing the country. This was slightly higher than June’s figure of 72%.
The number of new daily COVID-19 infections in the UK has come down from more than 5,000 in May to fewer than 1,000 per day throughout the whole of July.
However, more than 1,000 new daily cases were reported at the weekend, the first time that barrier has been passed since June.
The Ipsos Mori poll found that the next most important issue was the economy with 36%, followed by Brexit on 30%.
Tellingly, 16% of those surveyed mentioned unemployment as a chief concern, the highest level it has been in more than three years.
On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that UK employment fell by the largest amount in more than a decade between April and June.
The number of people in work fell by 220,000 in the quarter, the largest decrease since May to July 2009 during the financial crisis.
The current level of concern over coronavirus is higher than that recorded about the economy following the 2008 recession and Brexit in 2019, Ipsos Mori said.
Mike Clemence, researcher at Ipsos MORI, said: “This month’s index shows a stabilisation of public opinion after a few months of volatile shifts.
“Coronavirus continues as Britons’ pre-eminent concern, with three quarters mentioning it as a big issue for the country.
“This is the same level we recorded in the June wave, during the lockdown.
“This suggests that the impact of loosening restrictions on public concern about the virus appears to be small – although it must be remembered that a score of 75% remains among the highest scores we’ve recorded for any issue in 46 years.
“We also see the start of a rise in worry about unemployment. This is currently concentrated strongly among those aged 35 to 54 in more manual professions but this level of concern might be expected to rise as the UK government furlough scheme reaches its end later this year.”
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