Year in Review 2020: How COVID-19 shaped what we searched online

Elianna Lev
·4-min read
3D Rendering,Human coronavirus.Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
3D rendering of the human coronavirus. Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. (Getty)

It’s safe to say this year was unlike any other, in large part because COVID-19 dominated so many aspects of our lives. It also had a big influence on what we looked up online, as the top Yahoo search terms of 2020 reveal. The coronavirus, and everything it impacted, was clearly top of mind. Here are some of the top COVID-19-related search terms Yahoo users looked up in 2020.

COVID-19
In January, Canada saw its first reported case of the mysterious virus from a man travelling to Toronto from Wuhan, China, where the virus is believed to have originated. Little was known about the illness at the time, but that didn’t stop Canadians from looking up anything they could find out about it online.

ZOOM
After the pandemic is officially declared in March, life as we know it begins to change. Provinces and territories declare a state of emergency, with non-essential businesses closing up shop while schools and universities begin to shut down. As a result of the widespread closures, those who could, began adapting to working from home. A lifeline in this change of pace is Zoom, the online video conferencing tool that allows large groups of people to gather virtually. It was also declared Yahoo Finance’s Company of the Year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during his daily press conference on COVID-19 and coronavirus in front of his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Sunday, April 19, 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during his daily press conference on COVID-19 and coronavirus in front of his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Sunday, April 19, 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)

CERB
With millions of Canadian stuck at home, and many unable to work, the government launched the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Those who are eligible can receive payments of $2,000 for a four-week period.

COVID-19 SYMPTOMS
While COVID-19 was initially described as a potentially deadly flu-like virus that causes severe fever and cough, the list of symptoms continues to grow the more time passes. Sore throat, diarrhoea, pink eye, headache, loss of taste or smell and “COVID toes” are some of the symptoms reported across the world in patients who contracted the virus. Online groups are formed for “long-haulers,” people who had the virus but no longer test positive, yet still experience symptoms, which range from lack of memory to severe fatigue.

CANADA-U.S. BORDER CROSSING
COVID-19 dealt a severe blow to the travel industry, with international borders being shut down. In March, the Canadian government reached a deal with the U.S. to suspend all non-essential travel between the two countries.

CANADA TRAVEL ADVISORY
An official travel advisory is enacted, which recommends that Canadians avoid all non-essential travel outside the country.

SOCIAL DISTANCING
In an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the act of social distancing is encouraged. This means staying six feet away from other people whenever possible. Essential businesses and services, like grocery stores and public transportation, put up signage to encourage people to keep a distance.

QUARANTINE ACT CANADA
In March, the Canadian government implemented the Quarantine Act, which requires people entering the country from elsewhere in the world to quarantine for a 14-day period, regardless of whether they are displaying symptoms.

TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2020 -- People wearing face masks line up for COVID-19 tests outside a COVID-19 assessment center in Toronto, Canada, on Nov. 30, 2020. As November nears its end, Canada reported a total of 374,051 COVID-19 cases and 12,076 deaths as of Monday afternoon, according to CTV. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Zou Zheng via Getty Images)
People wearing face masks line up for COVID-19 tests outside a COVID-19 assessment centre in Toronto, Canada, on Nov. 30, 2020. (Xinhua/Zou Zheng via Getty Images)

TORONTO LOCKDOWN
In November, Canada’s largest city enforced lockdown mode. That means bars and restaurants are only open for takeout and delivery, and stores can only be open for curbside pickup. It’s an attempt to curb the spread of the virus, which continues to climb in the province.

ONTARIO COVID-19
As of Dec. 21, the province has seen a total of 160,000 cases of COVID-19, which includes over 4,167 deaths.

CANADA COVID-19
The country has recorded 508,000 cases of COVID-19, which includes 14,228 deaths.

ALBERTA COVID-19
Alberta has reported 90,219 cases of COVID-19, which includes 851 deaths.

B.C. COVID-19
B.C. was initially lauded for its handling the virus at the start of the pandemic, though numbers eventually began to spike. The province has seen a total of 45,400 cases and 724 deaths.