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In International journal of infectious diseases : IJID : official publication of the International Society for Infectious Diseases

OBJECTIVE : An emerging outbreak of COVID-19 has been detected in at least 26 countries worldwide. Given this pandemic situation, robust risk communication is urgently needed particularly in affected countries. Therefore, this study explored the potential use of Google Trends (GT) to monitor public restlessness toward COVID-19 epidemic infection in Taiwan.

METHODS : We retrieved GT data for the specific locations of Taiwan nationwide and subregions using defined search terms related to coronavirus, handwashing, and face masks.

RESULTS : Searches related to COVID-19 and face masks in Taiwan increased rapidly, following the announcements of Taiwan' first imported case and reached its peak as local cases were reported. However, searches for handwashing were gradually increased in period of face masks shortage. Moreover, high to moderate correlations between Google relative search volume (RSV) and COVID-19 cases were found in Taipei (lag-3), New Taipei (lag-2), Taoyuan (lag-2), Tainan (lag-1), Taichung (lag0), and Kaohsiung (lag0).

CONCLUSION : In response to the ongoing outbreak, our results demonstrated that GT could potentially define the proper timing and location for practicing appropriate risk communication strategies to the affected population.

Husnayain Atina, Fuad Anis, Su Emily Chia-Yu

2020-Mar-12

COVID-19, Google Trends, Taiwan, risk communication