How the coronavirus transformed human activities globally

Asia World

About 2.6 billion people have experienced some form of lockdown since the outbreak of the coronavirus. By analysing people’s movements, two big tech companies believe they can show how the world adapted to life during the pandemic.

Together, Google and Apple account for 98 per cent of the world’s mobile phone operating systems.They recently published a series of community mobile reports (CMR) offering insights on people’s movements and activities during the pandemic using anonymised data from their map apps. While these reports can not show the exact behaviour of entire populations, they do reflect general trends in people’s movements during the crisis.

As the global number of daily Covid-19 deaths rose from 60 on January 22 to over 5,000 on April 15, national and localised lockdowns with varying restrictions became increasingly common around the world.

How people’s activity changed

The International Labour Organisation estimates 6.7 per cent of working hours, or 195 million full-time jobs, will be lost worldwide in the second quarter of the year.

Below, we compare the mobility of people in Hong Kong with the 12 worst affected countries, from February to May 13, 2020.

Retail and recreation

Restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, theme parks, museums, libraries and cinemas have all taken big hits.

US

BRITAIN

Spain

Italy

Brazil

Germany

Turkey

France

Peru

India

Canada

Belgium

Hong Kong

0
-50%
+20%
-100%

BASELINE

February 15,
Google’s CMR
series starts

May 13

INCREASED
MOBILITY
DECREASED
MOBILITY
April 1, confirmed
COVID-19 cases hit
1 million worldwide
March 12, the World Health
Organisation declares a
global pandemic

Hong
Kong
Hong
Kong

Groceries and pharmacies

There is a worldwide trend of fewer people visiting grocery stores and farmers’ markets, food warehouses and drug stores. Turkey bucks the trend with a significant amount of people visiting shops for groceries and pharmaceuticals.

US

BRITAIN

Spain

Italy

Brazil

Germany

Turkey

France

Peru

India

Canada

Belgium

Hong Kong

Hong
Kong
Hong
Kong

0
-50%
+50%
-100%

February 15

May 13
April 1
March 12
BASELINE

Transit stations

Mobility to subway stations plummeted throughout the world before stabilising in April. Studies suggest the subway system was the major source of coronavirus infections in New York, followed by bus stations

US

BRITAIN

Spain

Italy

Brazil

Germany

Turkey

France

Peru

India

Canada

Belgium

Hong Kong

0
-50%
+20%
-100%

BASELINE

February 15

May 13

April 1
March 12

Hong
Kong
Hong
Kong

Searching for greenery

People have begun to head back to open spaces having initially avoided trips to parks, beaches, marinas, plazas and public gardens. Germany, and to a lesser extent Canada, reported an increase in those activities throughout the pandemic.

US

BRITAIN

Spain

Italy

Brazil

Germany

Turkey

France

Peru

India

Canada

Belgium

Hong Kong

April 1

0
-50%
+80%
+50%
-100%

BASELINE
March 12

February 15

May 13

Hong
Kong
Hong
Kong

Working from home

Governments around the world attempted to contain Covid-19 by obliging workers of non-essential activities to stay home.

HOME MOBILITY
People were much less likely to venture
from their homes during the pandemic.

US

BRITAIN

Spain

Italy

Brazil

Germany

Turkey

France

Peru

India

Canada

Belgium

Hong Kong

0
+50%
+100%
-5%

BASELINE

February 15
May 13

April 1
March 12

Hong
Kong
Hong
Kong

WORKSPACE MOBILITY
The number of commuters plummeted
as people were encouraged or
forced to work from home.

US

BRITAIN

Spain

Italy

Brazil

Germany

Turkey

France

Peru

India

Canada

Belgium

Hong Kong

Hong
Kong
Hong
Kong

0
-50%
+20%
-100%

BASELINE

February 15

May 13

April 1
March 12

Graphic and content editor Darren Long.

Source: Google Community Mobility Reports, Johns Hopkins University, Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, World Health Organisation (WHO)

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