When an epidemic occurs, a crucial aspect refers to the people’s perception about the real events because it could influence their behaviors. In this context the communication plays a relevant role. In the case of the coronavirus outbreak, measuring the public responses in terms of sentiment can help to understand whether the people reaction will lead to minimize, acknowledge or amplify the occurred events. Based on a unique dataset drawn from Twitter we derive three measures of public health concern: i) the interest in coronavirus among Twitter’s users; ii) the positive outbreak concern (POC) index and iii) the negative outbreak concern (NOC) index. We use these measures to analyze the emotional changes of the people across the timeline of the first four weeks of the outbreak in Italy discussing the heterogeneity of public reactions in relation to the COVID-19 cases and the government’s public health response to control the epidemic spread. The analysis has been conducted both at national and regional levels since the coronavirus outbreak hit in a different way Italian Regions. Our findings highlight that when the central government introduced the national lockdown in the entire Italian territories the regional differences in terms of interest smoothened.

The early weeks of the Italian Covid-19 outbreak: sentiment insights from a Twitter analysis

Lopreite M.;Puliga M.;
2021

Abstract

When an epidemic occurs, a crucial aspect refers to the people’s perception about the real events because it could influence their behaviors. In this context the communication plays a relevant role. In the case of the coronavirus outbreak, measuring the public responses in terms of sentiment can help to understand whether the people reaction will lead to minimize, acknowledge or amplify the occurred events. Based on a unique dataset drawn from Twitter we derive three measures of public health concern: i) the interest in coronavirus among Twitter’s users; ii) the positive outbreak concern (POC) index and iii) the negative outbreak concern (NOC) index. We use these measures to analyze the emotional changes of the people across the timeline of the first four weeks of the outbreak in Italy discussing the heterogeneity of public reactions in relation to the COVID-19 cases and the government’s public health response to control the epidemic spread. The analysis has been conducted both at national and regional levels since the coronavirus outbreak hit in a different way Italian Regions. Our findings highlight that when the central government introduced the national lockdown in the entire Italian territories the regional differences in terms of interest smoothened.
people perception
Humans
Italy
positive/negative outbreak concern indices
COVID-19
Twitter
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/326761
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