Governments around the world have imposed lockdowns and self-isolation measures, with varying degrees of severity, to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
On Thursday, April 2, Google released the first set of “Community Mobility Reports” aimed at helping public health officials assess how successfully the community is adhering to the new COVID-19 curbs.
Google produced the reports using Google Maps data to show how community mobility has changed since governments across the globe imposed anti-COVID-19 measures like curfews, self-isolation, and shelter in place orders to ‘flatten the curve’.
“The reports use aggregated, anonymized data to chart movement trends over time by geography, across different high-level categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential,” Google Geo’s Senior Vice President Jen Fitzpatrick and Chief Health Officer Karen DeSalvo said in a statement on April 3.
The tech giant also sought to reassure users that the “reports have been developed to be helpful while adhering to our stringent privacy protocols and policies.”
So far Google has made data available from the following MENA Region countries:
Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Joran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
In Jordan, a strict curfew, rigorously enforced by authorities is in place. As a result, the Community Mobility data shows visits to retail and recreation spaces are down 74%. Mobility trends for transit stations, like public transport hubs, are down 89% and there are 73%fewer people visiting workplaces than before the COVID-19 curfew.
Worn-torn Yemen, on the other hand, has experienced minimal changes across all the areas Google assessed through its Community Mobility Report. Retail and recreation is down 8%, grocery and pharmacy down 1%, and workplaces down 5%.
Conspicuously, Yemen is yet to report any cases of COVID-19 but there are grave concerns that an outbreak there would be catastrophic, further adding to what the UN describes as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis” brought about by five years of civil war.
Jordan’s draconian lockdown appears to be paying dividends as the country’s coronavirus tally remains relatively low at 299 confirmed cases, compared to neighboring Saudi Arabia which has recorded 1885 cases, and Israel with 7030 confirmed cases.
In spite of its low number of cases, Jordan has moved to tighten restrictions even further by imposing a complete, nationwide, 24-hour lockdown on Friday, April 3.
The lockdown, to be enforced by security services and the military will “allow epidemiological investigation teams to work efficiently and effectively and reach and test the contacts of confirmed cases,” the State Minister for Media Affairs, Amjad Adileh said on Thursday.