U.K. Shows Signs of Passing Peak News Interest in Coronavirus Pandemic

Boris Johnson

The U.K. public’s interest in accessing news about COVID-19 is waning, according to new research by media regulator Ofcom.

Amid signs that the country’s coronavirus epidemic may have passed its peak, Ofcom published figures Tuesday that said more people — around 30% — actively sought to avoid news about the pandemic in week four of the country’s lockdown, up from 22% in week one. Those aged 18-24 are most likely to say they are avoiding news about COVID-19.

The U.K. lockdown started on March 23, prompting Ofcom to start researching how people were receiving and acting on news and information during the pandemic.

The regulator found that only 12% of people accessed news about the virus at least 20 times a day in week four, compared with a high of 24% in week one.

Almost all respondents to Ofcom’s research are still accessing news about COVID-19 at least once a day, but this has decreased slightly from 99% in week one, to 96% in week four.

People are also not sharing as much information or news about COVID-19 either, with 18% saying they are not doing so compared to 11% in week one.

Meanwhile, 44% of people say they have come across false or misleading information about COVID-19. False claims linking 5G to the outbreak remain the most commonly seen pieces of misinformation.

Among adult internet users, traditional media sources such as broadcasters and print media remain the most used source of news and information about COVID-19, according to Ofcom.

The research makes good reading for U.K. public broadcaster the BBC, whose services across TV, radio and online remain the most used by some margin. Three quarters (76%) use the BBC as a source of news and information.

The number of COVID-19 deaths in UK hospitals now stands at 21,678.