Omicron Virus Risk Perception And Information Needs Among The Public In Saudi Arabia

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Rasha Mohammed Hussien , Mahmoud Abdel Hameed Shahin


Introduction: The Omicron variant is a highly infectious and transmissible form of COVID-19, even more infectious than the Delta and Beta variants. This study aimed to investigate the risk perceptions and community information needs concerning the Omicron pandemic in Saudi Arabia. Methods: This descriptive, cross-sectional study recruited 525 people from Saudi Arabia utilizing the convenience sampling technique. The participants completed an electronic questionnaire that was adopted and modified to assess their general knowledge about Omicron infection; its perceived seriousness; their own vulnerability, self-efficacy, motivation, and hindering factors; and the information needs of the population. Results: Most of the participants had not contracted COVID-19 previously and were vaccinated with at least two doses. Almost two-thirds of the participants perceived Omicron as a dangerous infection. On questions of self-efficacy against Omicron, most of the participants supported preventive measures such as wearing masks and indicated that they would follow such measures if they were advised to do so. A sense of responsibility toward one’s health and preventing Omicron infection transmission and the perception of Omicron as a serious infection were among the main reasons participants gave for abiding by preventive measures. The largest proportion of participants reported that they need information regarding their susceptibility to Omicron infection and the incubation period of the virus and that they prefer to receive updates from the national authorities of the country, such as the Ministry of Health and public health services. Conclusion: People in Saudi Arabia expressed average to high perceptions of risk toward the Omicron virus, and most of them indicated their willingness to carry out preventive measures because of a feeling of responsibility toward their health and the health of others around them. Psychoeducation and mental health support are advised for the general population to decrease the psychological impact of COVID-19’s different variants.

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