Britons worry less about COVID and Brexit, but new concerns grow - poll

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LONDON (Reuters) - People in Britain are much less worried about the coronavirus pandemic than they were just a month ago as the country makes headway with its vaccination programme, an opinion poll showed on Tuesday.

The proportion of respondents who cited COVID-19 as a big issue for the country dropped to 49% from 72% in February although it remained the single biggest concern, polling firm Ipsos MORI said.

Britain has suffered Europe's biggest COVID-19 death toll but has raced ahead of other European countries with its coronavirus vaccinations this year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, along with his counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is gradually easing restrictions.

"Concern is notably lower among older age groups, which may suggest the vaccination campaign is having an impact on public perceptions – although worries are also lower among the youngest Britons who will not yet have been vaccinated," said Mike Clemence, associate research director at Ipsos MORI.

Brexit also fell down the list of worries and was mentioned as a concern by 26% of respondents, its joint-lowest level since the referendum decision to leave the European Union in 2016.

But there were significant increases in concerns about the health service, poverty, education and housing, the poll showed.

Ipsos MORI interviewed 1,009 people between March 5 and March 11.

(Writing by William Schomberg. Editing by Andrew MacAskill)