Using open-source intelligence to identify early signals of COVID-19 in Indonesia

Authors

Abstract

Objective: Open-source data from online news reports and informal sources may provide information about outbreaks before official notification. This study aims to evaluate the use of open-source data from the epidemic observatory, EpiWATCH, to identify the early signals of pneumonia of unknown cause as a proxy for COVID-19 in Indonesia. Methods: Using open-source data on pneumonia of unknown cause in Indonesia between 1 November 2019 and 31 March 2020 (extracted from EpiWATCH, an open-source epidemic observatory), a descriptive analysis was performed to identify the trend of pneumonia of unknown cause in Indonesia before official notification of COVID-19 cases. Results: A rise in reports of pneumonia of unknown cause was identified in Indonesia, starting from late January 2020. There were 304 reported cases of pneumonia of unknown cause, 30 of which occurred before the identification of the first COVID-19 cases on 2 March 2020. The early signals of pneumonia of unknown cause in Indonesia may indicate possible unrecognized circulation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) before official detection. Discussion: Open-source data may provide rapid, unvalidated information for early detection of outbreaks. Although unvalidated, such information may be used to supplement or trigger investigation and testing. As EpiWATCH sources global information, this methodology can be repeated for other countries within the Western Pacific Region, and for other diseases.

Author Biographies

Yoser Thamtono, The Kirby Institute Wallace Wurth Building, High Street, Kensington, NSW 2052, Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Yoser Thamtono, MD is a student at the Kirby Institute and School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales Australia. (yoserthamtono@protonmail.com)

Aye Moa, The Kirby Institute Wallace Wurth Building, High Street, Kensington, NSW 2052, Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Aye Moa, MMed(ClinEpi), MPH is a research fellow and program manager of the Biosecurity program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Medicine.  (moa25@protonmail.com)

Chandini Raina MacIntyre, The Kirby Institute Wallace Wurth Building, High Street, Kensington, NSW 2052, Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Professor Raina MacIntyre (MBBS Hons 1, FRACP, FAFPHM, M App Epid, PhD) is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and Professor of Global Biosecurity. She heads the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Medicine. (rainam@protonmail.com)

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Published

2021-02-17

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Section

COVID-19: Original Research