Truth behind terrifying 'new' map showing potential coronavirus spread

The truth behind a "new" map showing the alleged potential worldwide spread of the coronavirus has been revealed.

The graphic is of a world map showing global flight paths and appears to be first used in a 2010 study.

Truth behind terrifying 'new' map showing potential coronavirus spread
Photo credit: Twitter/World Pop Project

It was posted to Twitter on February 6 and used to promote a study by UK researchers, describing how the coronavirus may spread beyond China. The photo didn't appear in the actual study.

But the graphic was picked up by media outlets where it was described as "new", and it was used to theorise where the coronavirus may have spread before the city of Wuhan was placed in quarantine.

The map was tweeted by the World Pop Project, the data research centre based at the University of Southampton who conducted the study.

Replies to the tweet called the image "alarming", and an "irresponsible post" that "should be deleted", due to people believing that the image and the study may be connected.

The World Pop Project replied to the comments, saying the concerns were understood and the photo was "simply intended to be an illustrative picture of the global air network".

World Pop Project's study was then tweeted again on February 7 with a different graphic that showed the volume of travellers to each country after the coronavirus outbreak.

The study estimates that 59,912 air passengers - of which 834 had coronavirus - travelled from Wuhan to 382 cities outside of mainland China during the two weeks prior to Wuhan's lockdown.

Map location data was gathered from Chinese tech company Baidu and international flight itineraries to reach this conclusion.

"The majority of these cities were in Asia, but major hubs in Europe, the US and Australia were also prominent, with strong correlation seen between predicted importation risks and reported cases seen," the study says.

"Because significant spread has already occurred, a large number of airline travellers may be required to be screened at origin high-risk cities in China and destinations across the globe for the following three months of February to April 2020 to effectively limit spread beyond its current extent."

More than 1000 people have died from coronavirus in China, and there are over 42,000 confirmed cases.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz