(BUSINESS INSIDER) A research paper released this week describes a surprising trend on the Chinese social-media platform WeChat: Usage of keywords related to the new coronavirus spiked more than two weeks before officials confirmed the first cases.
The authors, five infectious-disease researchers in China, analyzed the prevalence of the terms "SARS," its Chinese equivalent "Feidian," "coronavirus," "shortness of breath," "dyspnea," and "diarrhea" in posts and searches on WeChat from November 17 to December 31. Their findings suggest "abnormal spikes and increases" in the usage of all the keywords during that time.
If confirmed, the findings might indicate that the coronavirus started circulating weeks before the first cases were officially diagnosed and reported.
Advertisement - story continues below