As India's coronavirus cases rise to 6,412 amid the lockdown across the country, it is worth looking back at what Indians, confined to their homes since 24 March, and the rest of the people around the world, have been searching for online since December 2019, when news of the virus first began emerging from China's Wuhan.
Representational image. Image from Pixabay.
Google searches explode
As per SEMrush, an online visibility management and content marketing platform, which conducted a study to document the Indian public's awareness about the coroanvirus outbreak, found that searches for the term "coronavirus" went from an anemic 2,400 times in December to an incredible 61 lakh times in January, an increase of 2.54 lakh percent.
In February, the keyword "coronavirus" was searched over 1.6 crore times, which is 162.5 percent more than compared to January. The term "coronavirus symptoms", which was searched only 40 times in December, received 12.2 lakh searches in January. The other top terms searched for on Google included "coronavirus disease", "coronavirus treatment", "coronavirus cause", "coronavirus infection", "coronavirus vaccine", "coronavirus diagnosis" and "novel coronavirus" as per the SEMrush study.
Top questions on Google Trends
As per Google Trends (as of 5 April), the top trending questions on coronavirus over the past week were:
1. How many cases of coronavirus in India 5 April? 2. What is COVID 19 or coronavirus? 3. When coronavirus end in India? 4. Will lockdown get extended in India? 5. How China controlled coronavirus?
What people around the world are searching for
As per a report in Fast Company, the top questions from around the world had are fairly similar to those of people from the United States:
- Is Disney World closed?
- How many cases of coronavirus are in Michigan?
- How many cases of coronavirus are in Ohio?
- What kills the coronavirus?
- Where can I get tested for Coronavirus?
The top coronavirus-related searches from people around the world indicate widespread interest in the health and actions of world leaders. Searches for loneliness have reached the highest point in the history of Google Trends (since 2004) with Iran, Afghanistan and Italy being the top three countries searching for this term, as per Google.
Google Trends from December to April
Searches for the term coronavirus remained flat from December till late January before ticking up in early March, exploding mid-March and saw the highest level of traffic on 23 March (100) " the day before the lockdown came into effect " and has since tapered off.
Searches for the term coronavirus hit its peak on Google Trends the day before the lockdown called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The most interest in the term was shown by the following regions: Nagaland (100), Jammu and Kashmir (95), Tripura (78), Sikkim (68) and Goa (66). The top related search topics over the past three months are: Coronavirus (100), China (4), Italy (3), United States (3), Death (3), Worldometers (2) and Corona - Beer (1)
Searches on Google Trends for coronavirus symptoms remained flat till 26 January (0) before rising sharply 0n 28 January (71), the day World Health Organisation leaders met with the Chinese to discuss the disease and how best to contain it. On 1 February, the day after the WHO declared a public health emergency and India reported its first case in Kerala, the Google Trends searches (63) came close to its then all-time peak. The rest of the month saw intermittent bouts of interest on 11 February (39), 18 February (14), 22 February (15), 25 February (15).
Early March saw sustained levels of searches in Google Trends before scaling new heights on 12 March (81), the day the first death was reported in India due to the virus. On 16 March, when the Central government ordered all malls, gyms, cinemas to remain shut till 31 March, interest saw yet another upwards tick (72). The prime minister calling for a 21-day lockdown on 22 March (62) gave the term a boost before its predictably hit its peak on 23 March (100), the day prior to the lockdown.