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Contextualising the coronavirus outbreak: a comparative mapping tool

A new mapping tool created by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine tracks the history of the novel coronavirus and other recent outbreaks, helping place daily headlines in context

We have been trying to keep up with the novel coronavirus ever since it started grabbing global headlines last month. At the time of writing, there have been 40,484 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and the death toll stands at 910. Both of these numbers will be out of date by the time you read this.

In isolation, the daily headlines can be difficult to interpret, offering a static snapshot of a moving target. It is hard, for instance, to tell if the situation is getting better or worse, and to what extent control efforts are having any effect.

To provide a clearer picture of this evolving story, the Vaccine Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has developed a new outbreak mapping tool, launched online today.

The site is updated daily based on figures published by the World Health Organization (WHO). While other live trackers developed by Johns Hopkins University and the WHO are updated more frequently, our tool enables users to wind back the clock and view the global situation on any given day of the coronavirus outbreak. It also enables  the unfolding situation to be compared with other recent outbreaks, including the epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 (also caused by a coronavirus), the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Our hope is that this tool will provide more context to the daily headlines and a fresh perspective on key turning points in the disease’s history.

A longer version of this article will be published shortly in The Conversation.

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