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A health worker conducts a Covid-19 swab test at Dewan PU7 in Puchong Utama May 22, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
A health worker conducts a Covid-19 swab test at Dewan PU7 in Puchong Utama May 22, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 ― Covid-19 is still at the top of Malaysians’ minds even after more than a year and despite the government ramping up vaccinations, a survey found.

The survey by research outfit Ipsos is done monthly in 28 countries and lists five key issues that concern respondents the most.

In Malaysia, up to two-thirds of respondents listed Covid-19 as their top concern, surpassing political and financial corruption which came in second at 51 per cent.

Concerns about the coronavirus dipped in February this year when the last major wave subsided. As daily cases surged again, with the past three days seeing record high rates of above 7,000, fear of Covid-19 is now close to peak levels.

“Despite the recent acceleration of vaccination in Malaysia, a surge in cases in May ensures that Covid remains people’s primary concern,” said Lars Erik Lie, associate director of Ipsos Public Affairs.

“More than one year after the outbreak, Covid is still looming large in shaping people’s perceptions about the state of the country.”

Malaysians’ concern about the coronavirus is also “substantially” higher than the global average. Only 42 per cent of respondents said they were worried about Covid-19, which is 32 per cent less than Malaysian respondents.

Malaysians’ preoccupation with corruption is also higher than the global country average of 30 per cent. At the worldwide level, worries about unemployment came in second after the pandemic, followed by poverty and social inequality at 32 per cent.

Only 23 per cent of Malaysian respondents said they are concerned about the poor and inequality.

The country’s unemployment rate reached levels last seen during the commodity price crisis in the 1980s mid last year, at over five per cent, after the National Security Council forced a near-total shut down of the economy to rein in Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

The rate has since dropped to 4.7 per cent, but many households have fallen further behind the well-off as the cycle of lockdown continues to hurt income and curb hiring.

The fifth and last issue the survey looked at was crime and violence. Malaysian respondents felt it was the least of their worries, with just a fifth saying it’s a major concern. The global average was 25 per cent.

“Covid-19 is overshadowing other concerns among Malaysians,” the research agency said.

“With recent increase in cases, Malaysians’ concern about Covid-19 is up near the level of the last peak in February 2020. Country is in the wrong direction (negative sentiment) is getting correlated to the fluctuation in Covid-19 cases.”


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