EVALUATION OF FEAR TOWARDS OMICRON VARIANT OF COVID-19 AMONG THE POPULATION OF SOUTH PUNJAB, PAKISTAN: A CROSS-SECTIONAL STUDY
Keywords:Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Omicron variant, Total Fear Score (TFS)
A new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 named Omicron induced a swift increase in COVID-19 cases across the world. Omicron variant-associated cases had a substantial impact on people's mental health. A cross-sectional social media-based survey was conducted (13-December-2021 to 25-Dec-2021) after the first case of Omicron variant has been reported in Pakistan. A designed questionnaire was used to gather data. The first part of the questionnaire contained demographic characteristics and second section comprised seven questions regarding fear toward the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Statistical analysis was performed by Graph Pad Prism version VII and MS-Excel. A total of 375 people were engaged in this survey. About 98.9% of participants had heard about the Omicron variant. Social media was found as the enormous source of Omicron variant information. The fear score was collectively high about 84.5%. Partakers who belong to urban areas had a significantly high fear score than the people who live in rural areas. Participants aged 21 - 40 had remarkably greater fear scores than other ages especially among healthcare workers in comparison with non-healthcare workers. Females were found eminently on a high fear level as compared to men. On an educational basis, post-graduates partakers had significantly high fear scores than the other graduates and high school/diploma holder participants. The current study provides a compact screening of the fear among the people of south Punjab Pakistan towards the Omicron variant of COVID-19. There is a need for development of strategies to overcome the fear by imparting new policies and awareness programs.