Using SNSs for early detection of disease outbreak in developing countries: evidence from COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria

Tunde Adebisi, Ayooluwa Aregbesola, Festus Asamu, Ogadimma Arisukwu, Eyitayo Oyeyipo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


Developing countries, particularly Nigeria, continually find it challenging to proactively and actively carry out early-stage surveillance for disease outbreaks due to the lack of quality workforce, a dearth of public health data, and the absence of automated surveillance systems in the country. This study presents the potential and ability of Twitter in tracking early detection of COVID-19, monitoring the dissemination of information, and exploration of public awareness and attitudes among Nigerians. Tweets mentioning COVID-19 and related keywords were collected in 11 batches via the NCapture™ plugin available on Google Chrome from February 20 - May 6, 2020. The analysis includes a time series analysis to track the distribution of data and content analysis to analyze the knowledge and attitudes of Nigerians. A total of 67,989 tweets (1,484 unique and 66,505 retweets) citing COVID-19 and related keywords were returned. The Tweets started to emerge earlier to the first confirmed case in Nigeria while maintaining a dangling-upward movement up to the 11th week under study. Matters arising from the tweets include a dearth of information on COVID-19 and optimism among others. The results provide insight into the intersection of SNSs and public health surveillance. Results show how helpful Twitter is to educate education in public health. Health organizations and the government may benefit from paying attention to both amusing and emotional contents from the Twitter community to formulate a viable policy for treatment and control.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere07184
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
Issue number6
Early online date30 May 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)


  • COVID-19
  • Nigeria
  • Public health surveillance
  • Qualitative research
  • Twitter


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