Here’s what Indians looked up on Google amid the coronavirus pandemic

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on March 24, 2020

Google search for the term ‘coronavirus’ in India grew tremendously over the last couple of months, according to a study by SEMrush, an online visibility management and content marketing platform.

The study which was aimed at capturing the extent of the Indian public’s awareness about the coronavirus outbreak and what steps the public is taking to prevent infection, found that the number of times the word “coronavirus” was searched online grew an astounding 2.54 lakh per cent from December 2019 to January 2020.

In December 2019, users searched for the term “coronavirus” 2,400 times. Google search for the term spiked up to 61 lakh in January 2020. In February, the keyword “coronavirus” was searched 162.5 per cent more as compared to January. In India, it was searched over 1.6 crore times in February.

Users also actively searched for the term “coronavirus symptoms” with searches amounting to 12.2 lakh times in January 2020, as compared to 40 times in December 2019.

Other top searches included terms such as “coronavirus disease”, “coronavirus treatment”, “coronavirus cause”, “coronavirus infection”, “coronavirus vaccine”, “coronavirus diagnosis” and “novel coronavirus.”

Each term was searched between 30k and 1 lakh times in January.

Apart from basic information, Indian users also looked up for preventive measures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, searching for supplies such as masks and hand sanitizers.

Online searches for “n95 mask”, “n95 mask price” and “3m n95 mask” rose by 1,017 per cent, 3,002 per cent, and 1,962 per cent respectively in January as compared to December, according to the study.

Similar terms that were increasingly looked up by users included “n95 respirator mask”, “n95 pollution mask”, “n95 face mask”, “medical mask”, “n95 mask uses”, “n95 mask price in India”, and “n95 mask reusable”. Each keyword was searched between 7,500 and 700 times. Notably searches with the keywords “n95 respirator mask” increased a whopping 10,400 per cent since December 2019.

“In addition to buying face masks, Indians are taking other measures as well to protect themselves from coronavirus. The study found that from January to February, searches for the keywords “hand sanitizer” grew by a substantial 82.43 per cent,” the study stated.

‘Indians concerned’

“Our study demonstrates that Indians actively try to protect themselves from epidemics, even when their epicentre is distant and the possibility of infection relatively low. The SEMrush study also captured data showing the kind of protective equipment Indians turn to protect themselves from airborne viruses. The n95 face mask was a relatively unknown product before the coronavirus epidemic; today, it is less so. The reason behind the massive increase in the number of times the n95 mask is being searched for is apparent; Indians concerned about the danger posed by coronavirus are scouting for the best preventative tool,” said Mr Fernando Angulo, Head of Communications SEMrush said.

Providing information

As people are increasingly turning to online resources for information, Google recently launched its dedicated search portal in India. The search giant displays a snippet of the page with consolidated information right at the top of the search results when users search for ‘coronavirus’ or ‘Covid-19’ on desktop and mobile devices.

The information displayed in the section is divided into four sections-overview, symptoms, prevention and treatments.

In India, the overview section displays a link to the official website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The website has detailed information regarding the current status of the outbreak, along with the preventive measures taken by the government and relevant advisories to curb the spread of the outbreak.

The symptoms, prevention and treatment sections have detailed information regarding the same provided by the World Health Organisation.

Published on March 24, 2020

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