MANILA (UPDATED) -- Eighty-nine percent of adult Filipinos are afraid to catch COVID-19, a survey released on Thursday found, with more people recently saying "the worst is yet to come" compared to late-2020.
According to the Social Weather Stations (SWS), 70% of the survey respondents said they were a "great deal worried" while 19% were "somewhat worried" that their immediate family could contract the virus.
"The latest percentage of those worried about catching COVID-19 is 2 points below the record-high 91% in November 2020, but still higher than the 85% in September 2020 and July 2020," the SWS said.
The pollster added that compared to past surveys, more Filipinos worry more about getting infected by COVID-19 than those who were anxious of possibly contracting previous prevalent viruses such as swine flu, bird flu, and SARS.
According to SWS, 92% of Visayas residents said they were absolutely or somewhat worried over contracting the virus, followed by Mindanao (90%), Balance Luzon (88%), and Metro Manila (85%).
The survey was conducted between April 28 and May 2.
"Compared to November 2020, worry about catching COVID-19 stayed at 85% in Metro Manila, while it barely moved from 89% in Balance Luzon," it said, adding that anxiety over the disease fell from 96% in the Visayas and 95% in Mindanao.
The SWS said that worry over infection among junior high school graduates stayed at 91% among junior high school graduates, while it fell slightly from 91% to 88% among elementary graduates and from 95% to 91% among college graduates.
'WORST YET TO COME'
The survey noted that more Filipinos this year fear the pandemic will worsen.
"[We] found a worsening outlook on the COVID-19 crisis as those fearing 'the worst is yet to come' with the COVID-19 crisis rose from 31% in November 2020 to 49% in May 2021. This is the highest since the 57% in July 2020," the pollster said.
"Conversely, those saying 'the worst is behind us' fell from 69% in November 2020 to 50% in May 2021."
According to SWS, Balance Luzon had the highest percentage of residents fearing the pandemic will exacerbate with 54%, followed by Metro Manila (50%), the Visayas (49%), and Mindanao (38%).
"Compared to November 2020, those fearing 'the worst is yet to come' rose by 28 points in Metro Manila (from 22%), by 23 points in Balance Luzon (from 31%), by 17 points in the Visayas (from 32%), and by 3 points in Mindanao (from 35%)," the research institution said.
"Those saying 'the worst is behind us' are now highest in Mindanao (62%), followed by the Visayas (51%), Metro Manila (49%), and Balance Luzon (45%)."
College graduates were the most pessimistic among education levels over the pandemic, with 56% of them fearing the pathogen's spread will aggravate. Junior high school and elementary graduates followed at 49%.
"Compared to November 2020, those saying 'the worst is yet to come' rose by 21 points among college graduates (from 35%), by 20 points among junior high school graduates (from 29%), by 16 points among elementary graduates (from 33%), and by 11 points among non-elementary graduates (from 29%)," the SWS said.
The survey noted that all education levels' optimism for the COVID-19 situation dropped.
"[It] fell from 71% to 60% among non-elementary graduates, from 67% to 50% among elementary graduates, from 71% to 50% among junior high school graduates, and from 65% to 44% among college graduates," it said.
FILIPINOS WORRY MORE THAN AMERICANS
The SWS survey also revealed that more Filipinos were worried with COVID-19 infections than people in the US, one of the worst coronavirus-hit countries in the world.
According to the pollster, a Gallup survey in November 2020 found only 59% of adult Americans were anxious over possible infections.
"When it comes to catching COVID-19, the proportion of worried Americans was always lower than worried Filipinos," the SWS said.
The survey, which used a stratified sample of 1,200 respondents nationwide with a +/- 3-percent margin of error, was conducted from April 28 to May 2, 2021.
The DOH said it would "like to shift it in a positive light" as the survey proves that Filipinos are still cautious of the virus.
"We can take that opportunity para i-encourage sila na magpabakuna," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press conference.
(We can take that opportunity to encourage them to be vaccinated.)
"We would like to take this into a positive light. Tayo po ay magpabakuna na kung eligible tayo," she said.
(Let us avail of the vaccines if we are eligible.)
An earlier survey by SWS showed half of Filipinos were "confident" with how Philippine authorities assessed COVID-19 vaccines that reached the country.
A poll by Pulse Asia also revealed 6 in 10 Filipinos were reluctant to get vaccinated against COVID-19 amid the continued rise of infections in the Philippines.
As of Thursday, the country has logged a total of 1,247,899 COVID-19 cases, of which 55,790 or 4.5 percent are considered active. Its death toll due to the virus stood at 21,357 with 1,170,752 recoveries.
- with a report from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News