The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly altered our lifestyles as we resort to minimize the spread through preventive measures such as social distancing and quarantine. An increasingly worrying aspect is the gap between the exponential disease spread and the delay in adopting preventive measures. This gap is attributed to the lack of awareness about the disease and its preventive measures. Nowadays, social media platforms (ie., Twitter) are frequently used to create awareness about major events, including COVID-19. In this paper, we use Twitter to characterize public awareness regarding COVID-19 by analyzing the information flow in the most affected countries. Towards that, we collect more than 46K trends and 622 Million tweets from the top twenty most affected countries to examine 1) the temporal evolution of COVID-19 related trends, 2) the volume of tweets and recurring topics in those trends, and 3) the user sentiment towards preventive measures. Our results show that countries with a lower pandemic spread generated a higher volume of trends and tweets to expedite the information flow and contribute to public awareness. We also observed that in those countries, the COVID-19 related trends were generated before the sharp increase in the number of cases, indicating a preemptive attempt to notify users about the potential threat. Finally, we noticed that in countries with a lower spread, users had a positive sentiment towards COVID-19 preventive measures. Our measurements and analysis show that effective social media usage can influence public behavior, which can be leveraged to better combat future pandemics.