The coronavirus once again shot to the top of the British public’s list of concerns while environmental issues dropped down the agenda, polling shows.
More than six in 10 respondents said the pandemic was a major issue for Britain in Ipsos MORI’s December issues index – double the proportion recorded in the two months prior and the highest level since February 2021.
The poll was conducted in mid-December, following the emergence of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant but before UK studies suggested the new strain is milder than previous ones.
Concerns over the environment, pollution, and climate change dropped drastically down the public’s priorities in December compared to the month before.
Only 13% mentioned the topic as a key issue, down from its highest ever score of 40% in November as the Cop26 summit on climate change took place in Glasgow.
The environmental issues ranked alongside immigration, and were overtaken by worries over the coronavirus, the economy, Brexit, the NHS and politicians and politics.
The survey of 993 British adults found that levels of concern over Covid-19 is similar for Labour and Conservative voters and for different social grades.
Catriona Millar, a researcher at Ipsos MORI said: “Following news of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, we have seen a sharp rise in public concern about Covid-19.
“After dropping over summer and autumn, worry has returned to levels last seen in February of 2021.”
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