About the COVID-19 outbreak

This page provides a summary of the COVID-19 outbreak. For regular updates on the matter, please visit the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s website.

What is COVID-19

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. COVID-19 first appeared in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

Source: WHO.

How does COVID-19 spread?

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets.

Source: WHO.

Why is mobility data important in fighting against the virus?

As the COVID-19 virus can spread from person to person, governments have been raising awareness among the public of the importance of practicing social distancing (e.g staying more than 1 meter / 3 feet away from people), and some have enacted mobility restrictions.

However, the extent to which current mobility restrictions and recommendations are adhered to is not known. Moreover, the extent to which population mixing has decreased, as well as information on the locations in which such mixing takes place (markets, nightlife areas etc), are incompletely known, preventing a data-driven response to the epidemic.

Improving our understanding of population movements can help governments and health actors make better-informed decisions.

How can mobile phone data play a role in the response?

Anonymised and aggregated data from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) is a key data source to understand mobility patterns of populations and improve decision making and scenario planning during the COVID-19 epidemic. This data can be analysed in near real-time and provide an overview of mobility patterns at local levels and across an entire country.

Read more here.