From a few isolated cases in late January, COVID-19 has since spread like wildfire in Canada. Mid-March, cases started to multiply and everyone had one single question in mind : how could this happen? We propose a visualization of the first confirmed cases of the disease in every province to understand how the coronavirus took hold in the country.
It answered a question everyone had in mind. This project went back to the early stages of the pandemic to show how contact tracing, already a challenge, would grow to become almost impossible as community transmission quickly spread across the country.
Through flow mapping and interactive charts, we showed how COVID-19 took hold in Canada. The map allows us to better understand, by date, from where people first came back infected, and where they went. The lines also give us a perspective through numbers. The interactive charts give us a way to better understand who were the first COVID-19 cases in each province. We kept the design simple to make the story as effective and compelling as possible.
What was the hardest part of this project?
We had to go through hundreds of press releases, collect the data, create a database and find a way to relay the vast amount of information collected. We showed with a world map that, even if the first confirmed cases were coming from Asia (as suspected), the subsequent cases were still associated with travellers but from many different countries. We also took every case in each province to show where those people were coming back from, and what were the links between the travellers and the early infected people who did not go abroad.
What can others learn from this project?
Other journalists can learn that simple information found in a press release and usually used in a line or two in an article can make an interesting visualization when you combine them all. It gives a more complete picture, which is sometimes missing to better understand a story.