Most times visualising data is a process of finding the most appropriate way to explain data while still being true to the underlying data. Over the past few weeks we have been visualising the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa and we have had to make dozen of visualisation decisions. We've also had dozens of suggestions from generous supporters which we have tried to include. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don't, but we're always working to improve what we have despite the relatively lack of data being released by the department of health. These pages are an opportunity to share some of the visualisation decisions we have made and some of the things we have learned along the way.

Covid-19: Making sense of “R”

R0 is on everyone’s lips these days, and it is a critical measure of the epidemic that guides predictions and policies. Yet how R works is widely misunderstood and this leads to inappropriate conclusions. I hope this article will clarify some misunderstandings. But I must emphasise the examples here are for the purpose of illustrating how R works, and are not accurate predictions of how the epidemic will actually evolve in South Africa.

Continue reading “Covid-19: Making sense of “R””

Data transparency is a crucial part of managing a pandemic, but we aren’t seeing that yet

Yesterday evening South African president Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation for the first time in 20 days. In his speech (in full here) he referenced mistakes that had been made and promised to do his best to rectify these. He also spoke about the need for transparency and he said government was committed “to continue to be forthright on the state of the pandemic. You want to know when things are bad, and be told when they could get worse,” he said.

While we acknowledge the work that has been done by the president and his government in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, there are areas which we feel need to be addressed. These are primarily data-access issues that we, and others, have been grappling with since the first case of coronavirus was detected in South Africa.

Continue reading “Data transparency is a crucial part of managing a pandemic, but we aren’t seeing that yet”

Covid-19 in the provinces

We haven’t added much provincial- and district-level information to our Coronavirus in SA dashboard yet, mainly because we weren’t sure if we’d get regular information from the department of health. We’ve made charts that we’ve had to remove after a couple of weeks because the data dried up. We’re in the process of adding more detailed provincial charts to the dashboard, but in the meantime, here’s a summary of the data we’ve collected so far.

Continue reading “Covid-19 in the provinces”

Showing the relationship between tests and confirmed cases

A large number of the emails we’ve received over the past few weeks have been asking us to compare tests done per day with positive tests per day. Many people have sent in their own charts to show us what they mean. This is why we’ve taken so long to include one of these charts in the dashboard.

Continue reading “Showing the relationship between tests and confirmed cases”