Last updated: 11 March 2020
Where can I find the latest global figures about cases?
The below organisations collate statistics and other information about disease.
- The World Health Organization’s Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation dashboard
- The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control worldwide situation update
- Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)
- CDC global confirmed COVID-19 cases map
Where can I find the best advice for readers?
Below are a selection of guides providing vital information detailing how the public should respond to the coronavirus. These will change over time as governments and organisations adapt their responses to the spread of the virus.
How should I write headlines?
- Lead with the truth rather than a piece of misinformation.
- Tailor your headline for different platforms, drawing a distinction between headlines found via social media and headlines found via search.
- For headlines found via stumbling on an algorithmic feed (for example, Twitter and Facebook), consider that this audience may not have already heard of the rumour you are debunking. Avoid amplifying the rumour by steering clear of keywords and not repeating the myth.
- For headlines found via search engine (for example, Google, Bing or even YouTube), the fact that specific keywords were searched means this audience has already heard of the rumour. Amplification is less of a concern here — rather, your concern should be reaching the readers who are searching for the rumour before misinformation purveyors and scaremongerers do. Including keywords or even repeating the myth in the headline (for example, “No, you cannot catch coronavirus from packages”) may be beneficial for getting quality content in front of these readers.
Further reading: First Draft ethics and responsible reporting guidance.
How do I report on infectiousness (R0)?
- Pronounced “R naught”, the R0 (reproduction number) of a disease represents its infectiousness – specifically the number of cases an infected person is likely to cause during their infectious period.
- The R0 of the novel coronavirus is difficult to assess and is likely to change because: many cases are likely going undetected; the infectious period is yet unknown; it’s unclear how the changing immunity of the population after infection will affect future infectiousness.
- Early in the outbreak, the World Health Organisation determined an R0 of 2-2.5 for COVID-19 in Wuhan. Other sources put it between 1.4 and 4.08.
Further reading on R0:
- The Deceptively Simple Number Sparking Coronavirus Fears (The Atlantic)
- R0: How scientists quantify the intensity of an outbreak like coronavirus and its pandemic potential (The Conversation)
- Estimation of the reproductive number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the probable outbreak size on the Diamond Princess cruise ship: A data-driven analysis (International Journal of Infectious Diseases)
How do I report death rates?
- When reporting on deaths from COVID-19, it can be useful to also provide information on the proportion of deaths to recoveries, total infections or the current death rate to help readers contextualise and understand the level of threat.
- It is important to ensure that when reporting death rates you convey any uncertainty around the figures. For instance, the number of unreported cases may make the death rate among confirmed cases appear higher than the viruses’ actual lethality.
Further reading on death rates: