Map animation: Covid-19’s spread across the world

August 3 2020

On the 21st of January 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) started releasing regular situation reports of a previously unknown virus disease that was first reported to the organisation’s country office in China on 31st December 2019. First broadly referred to as Coronavirus, the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January. The disease is now called COVID-19 (transmitted through the SARS-CoV-2 virus) and has been characterised as a global pandemic on 11 March due to the ‘the alarming levels of spread and severity.’ As of 03 August, almost half a year into the (known) outbreak, 17,918,582 cases of the disease have been confirmed with 686,703 reported deaths.
The following map animation documents the spread of the disease during the first 6 months of data reporting, covering the period from 21 January to 31 July 2020. In this animation, each cartogram is shown proportional to the number of cases reported in each country. The absolute number of reported cases visualised in each map is documented in the number that is shown in the bottom left corner of the animation. Please note that loading the animation may take a moment. An enlarged version (approx. 50MB) without the surrounding red bars can be viewed through the magnifier icon in the top right corner.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) Map Animation 21.01.2020-31.07.2020

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) Map Animation 21. January -31. July 2020

This cartogram maintains the same area over time, rather than grow in size. The animation shows that of reported cases, so it may reflect the places that have tests and can afford to test and choose to test, as much as the actual spread of the disease itself.
While the disease seemed contained within China over the first weeks of its existence – only few small occurrences such as in France and Germany are briefly visible – but then starts spreading towards Europe towards the end of February until two months on the cases outside China by far outweigh the ones that have been reported within China. Towards the end of April, the USA are growing in size quite considerably and turn into the new main hotspot of the epidemic. Nearer the current date, growing shares of cases can also be observed in South America (especially Brazil) and Russia.

As noted in our main blog article related to Covid-19, it is important to keep in mind that the picture provided here reflects the situation as it is reported by the individual national health authorities. Case numbers have throughout the course of the pandemic believed to be higher than the reported cases, while the unknown figures may vary significantly between countries. This can – amongst other issues (including political ones) – partly be explained through different testing strategies. is providing regular cartogram updates for the COVID-19 pandemic. The individual maps and situation updates can be found in chronological order in the following article:
COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) Update: Chronology of a Pandemic.
Please contact us if you have further questions regarding collaboration or other inquiries related to this map series.

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