public surveys

Before Omicron-fueled spike, 80% of Filipinos hoped COVID-19’s worst had passed

Sofia Tomacruz
Before Omicron-fueled spike, 80% of Filipinos hoped COVID-19’s worst had passed

HOLIDAY RUSH. Shoppers walk shoulder-to-shoulder along the streets of Divisoria, Manila, as they shop for essentials to welcome the New Year, on December 30, 2021.

Rappler

The Social Weather Stations finds a record-high number of Filipinos were hopeful that 'the worst is behind us'

MANILA, Philippines – In mid-December 2021, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey found that a record-high number of Filipinos were hopeful that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic had passed, with concern over catching the virus easing across all island groups of the country. 

The survey, conducted from December 12 to 16, 2021, captured a moment of hope in the pandemic that has sickened nearly 3 million people in the Philippines and killed over 52,000. Since then, the Philippines has broken past infection records set in September 2021 – the country’s last peak in cases – in just four weeks’ time, after an all-time high of 28,707 new cases was reported on Sunday, January 9. 

The rapid increase in cases comes as the pandemic enters its third year and as local health officials report more cases of the extremely contagious Omicron variant. (READ: COVID-19 Weekly Watch: How worrisome is Omicron?)

The SWS’ December 2021 survey found that those hopeful “the worst is behind us” climbed to a record-high of 80% from 38% in September last year. The figure had surpassed the previous high of 69% last reported in November 2020. 

It also found, at the time, that those who feared “the worst is yet to come” fell from 60% in September 2021 to 19% in December 2021. “This is the lowest since the 31% in November 2020,” the SWS said. 

Alongside this, worry about catching COVID-19 fell slightly from 91% in September 2021 to 88% in December 2021. The SWS said that “worry about catching COVID-19 is much greater compared to viruses like Ebola, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

It found the following sentiments among all educational levels and areas of residence of respondents:

  • A record-high number of respondents in all areas saying “the worst is behind us” with the COVID-19 crisis with 83% answering this way in Mindanao, 82% in Metro Manila, 81% in Balance Luzon, and 75% in the Visayas.
  • Respondents answering “the worst is behind us”climbed in all educational areas. It was  highest among elementary graduates (83%), then junior high school graduates (81%), followed by college graduates (80%), and non-elementary graduates (72%).
  • Worry over catching COVID-19 was highest in the Visayas (94%), followed by Mindanao (91%), Metro Manila (87%), and Balance Luzon (84%).
  • Worry over catching the virus was also highest among elementary graduates (91%), then junior high school graduates (90%), college graduates (83%), and non-elementary graduates (82%).

The SWS said that, compared to Americans, Filipinos “have always been more worried” about catching COVID-19. This was based on Gallup’s survey conducted from November 29 to December 5, 2021, which round that  37% of adult Americans worrying they would contract COVID-19. 

“Nevertheless, when it comes to catching COVID-19, the proportion of worried Americans was always lower than worried Filipinos.

The non-commissioned Fourth Quarter 2021 SWS survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews with 1,440 adults nationwide – 360 each in Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao. The sampling error margins were ±2.6% for national percentages, and ±5.2% for Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

SWS said that the area estimates were weighted by the Philippine Statistics Authority medium-population projections for 2021 to obtain the national estimates. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.