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Understanding the Collective Responses of Populations to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Mainland China

By Haoyi Xiong, Ji Liu, Jizhou Huang, Siyu Huang, Haozhe An, Qi Kang, Ying Li, Dejing Dou, Haifeng Wang

Posted 24 Apr 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.20.20068676

Timely information acquisition and stay-at-home measures have been considered as two effective steps that every person could take to help contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. From the perspectives of information and mobility, this work aims at evaluating to what degree the massive population has responded to the emergencies of the COVID- 19 pandemic in China. Using the real-time and historical data collected from the Baidu Maps and Baidu search engines, we confirm the strong correlation between the local pandemic situation in every major Chinese city and the population inflows from Wuhan between 1 January and 23 January 2020. We further evidence that, in cities under more critical situations, people are likely to engage COVID-19-related searches more frequently, while they are not likely to escape from the cities. Finally, the correlation analysis using search and mobility data shows that well-informed individuals are likely to travel less, even while the overall travel demands are low compared to the historical records. Partial correlation analysis has been conducted to test the significance of these observations with respect to other controlling factors.

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