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Overseas Chinese student hailed by public for charting daily COVID-19 spread in UK

(People's Daily Online)    17:12, March 31, 2020

Overseas Chinese student Peng Wu has been taking a close interest in the spread of coronavirus in the UK. 

Overseas Chinese student Peng Wu has won widespread praise on the internet for charting the growth in number of coronavirus cases in the UK, as the country sees figures continuing to rise on a daily basis.

The 26-year-old is a Chinese student from Chengdu, China, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Leeds University. Peng has been taking a close interest in the spread of coronavirus in the UK and had warned the public to take action against the virus before it became a major public concern.

(Screenshot from DHSC's official Twitter account)

On March 5, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed on Twitter that 115 cases had been reported in the UK, up from 85 the previous day.

However, in Peng’s opinion, simply announcing the number of confirmed cases does not give the public a better understanding of the growth trend and severity of the outbreak.

Following the tweet from the DHSC, Peng posted his first daily chart showing the number of confirmed cases against an exponential growth curve prediction. Ever since then, updating the charts on Twitter has become a daily routine for Peng.

His intention behind the act was simple. “Insisting on doing this every day actually encourages everyone to continue to pay attention to the epidemic,” he told Yorkshire Post.

At that time, Peng predicted that the situation would get worse in the UK over the coming days. “The total was 115 cases, and I knew that because the government wasn’t taking much action at the time, it definitely meant the real number would be higher.”

“Every three days or so, the number will double until something effective is done,” he warned. His prediction later proved to be accurate. In mid-March, as the outbreak worsened in the UK, the number of confirmed cases witnessed a three-digit and even four-digit increase every day.

For Peng, making the chart was an easy job. As he has studied social statistics, it only took him about five minutes a day to complete the task by inputting the data into an analytics graph.

(Screenshot from Peng Wu's Twitter account)

Now, Peng posts two charts per day, one showing the ratio between the number of confirmed cases and number of people who have been tested, and the other showing the proportion of confirmed deaths to the total number of cases.

Peng’s actions have won massive plaudits from UK netizens and health professionals alike. The DHSC contacted him to thank him for updating charts in a timely manner, while members of parliament and even police chiefs have begun consulting him about the outbreak. At the request of a Nigerian doctor, Wu also helped draw up graphs on Nigeria’s coronavirus figures.

“Just waiting for that one tweet from Peng Wu to make my day,” one Twitter user said, while another netizen hailed him as a “legend”. Some even launched a petition demanding that Peng be made the Prime Minister.

From last weekend, Wu began to raise money to donate personal protective equipment to hospitals and GP practices in Yorkshire, in an attempt to contribute more to the fight against coronavirus in the UK.

Wu is determined to do the updates every day according to official data until the tide turns. “The Prime Minister said the overall situation in the UK would improve in late June and I will continue to do it until then,” Peng said. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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