Microsoft has launched an online portal to help users track coronavirus infections across the globe. The tool was built by the team behind Bing, the search engine developed by Microsoft to challenge Google, and uses the latest statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Most importantly, unlike some popular coronavirus maps – this is not a fraudulent tool designed to spread malware onto computers and smartphones worldwide.
The Bing tracking tool shows the total number of worldwide cases as well as a breakdown of how the number of active, recovered, and fatal cases that make up that total number. It also has a list of countries with reported cases, listed in descending order.
Tapping on a specific country will bring up more detailed statistics, as well as a selection of the latest news reports about the virus outbreak. In the United States, Bing allows users to see the overall statistics for the country, as well as a breakdown for each state.
There is also a map that shows the spread of COVID-19, which was first reported in China back in November. There is currently no vaccine for the viral strain.
Microsoft General Manager for Bing Growth and Distribution, Michael Schechter announced the online tool, stating: “Lots of Bing folks worked (from home) this past week to create a mapping and authoritative news resource for COVID19 info.”
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If you’d like to check out the website yourself, head to bing.com/covid
Microsoft isn’t the only technology company building online tools to help those worried about the global pandemic to track the spread of the disease. Google currently has 1,700 engineers building a similar online tool. According to reports, Google’s project will be much more than an infection tracker and news portal and will also include information on the symptoms of COVID-19, risks associated with the disease, as well as information on the testing centres nearest to you.
The Google online portal is being built by Verily – a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet that focuses on healthcare services.
The World Health Organisation has officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The last time it declared a global pandemic was in 2009 during the H1N1 influenza outbreak.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has advised against all non-essential travel and told all Britons to avoid restaurants, pubs, theatres and cinemas in a bid to stop the spread of the virus. Tougher measures, including advising all people over the age of 70 – statistically one of the most at-risk groups – to stay home in self-isolation for the next 12 weeks.
According to the statistics collated by Bing, more than 183,500 people have now contracted COVID-19 worldwide. While almost 80,000 of those have recovered, some 7,200 have died.