Table 1

Themes with description, example tweets and the number of tweets in each category

ThemesDescriptionExample tweetsNumber of tweets (%)
Health informationTweets that had information regarding transmission, symptoms, prevention and treatment for respiratory illness caused by COVID-19.‘#WuhanCoronavirus
Symptoms of 2019-nCoV include:
A fever
Dry cough
Shortness of breath
Trouble breathing
Dear all: frequent hand washing, covering coughs, and avoid touching your face’.
138 (11.32)
General information and updatesTweets that give updates on the count of confirmed cases and mortality in different countries. Tweets that share information regarding the steps carried out by the government in airports and hospitals to control and prevent outbreaks. Videos and images of the situation at hospitals in China.’China has locked down a city of 11 million to slow the spread of the new strain of coronavirus. Latest estimates:
  • 17 dead

  • 4k infected

  • 22+ cities affected in 5–8 countries

  • WHO will soon decide on a declaration of global public health emergency’.

700 (57.42)
Expressions or opinionsMessages in which people expressed their opinions, emotions and clarifications regarding the outbreak.‘What a nightmare. There is no way any city this size would be comfortable in lockdown’.294 (24.12)
Sarcasm or humourHumorous or witty text, sarcastic images, videos and memes related to the COVID-19 outbreak.‘a little late …
The coronavirus has already gone into ”tourist mode”, currently taking airline trips around the globe’.
92 (7.55)