Google’s parent company Alphabet released anonymized mobility data from 131 countries to help decision makers in the fight against the coronavirus. The reports show showing whether visits to shops, parks and workplaces dropped in March.
Google’s looked at location data from billions of users’ phones which is the largest public dataset available. The reports help health authorities assess if people are in fact staying at home.
There are some interesting differences between countries;
First the positive! Several Asian countries (incl Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore) show movement is relatively close to normal (-20% max) yet they have very low number of infections and deaths. It early reports indicate that the use masks, tracking cases, isolate patients properly and the practice better hygiene are factors contributing to the lowered infection rates.
In Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, visits to retail and recreation locations, including restaurants and movie theaters, plunged 94% while visits to workplaces slid 63%. Reflecting the severity of the crisis there, grocery and pharmacy visits in Italy dropped 85% and park visits were down by 90%. With interaction between humans being so low it is just a matter of time until the number of active cases start dropping.
Western countries with an active outbreak (like the UK, US, Netherlands and Germany) show some reduction in movement. The data will help authorities to figure out if increased testing, hygiene, wearing masks, isolating patients properly and maintain the current status quo in movements until the numbers actually start to drop. Or they can wait, let the situation get worse and have no choice but to restrict movement further – see Spain and Italy.
Austria is currently doing both; movement in particular hard-hit parts of the country is restricted close to zero and they implemented countrywide mandatory health measures like wearing masks in supermarkets. With this they can have the situation under control in 4-6 weeks assuming that current patients can still infect other people in the household.
Head on over to download your country and other countries to see how you’re region is doing at staying home to #FlattenTheCurve.