After dominating the conversations for weeks, coronavirus seems to be falling off the popularity charts as netizens in the country went back to searching for topics like films and weather on Google in May.
According to Google search trends, the search volume for coronavirus in May was half of that in April even though the number of COVID-19 cases have continued to rise in the country.
Coronavirus dropped to 12th most searched topic overall during May, behind topics like Film, Meaning, News and Weather.
The top searches of the past three months show complete contrasts as the queries being asked on Google regarding coronavirus reduced drastically and starting February disease-themed movies and games went viral, followed by recipe-related searches and last month weather updates.
All these terms are consistently highly searched topics in India. This probably indicates that people are trying to return back to consumption patterns seen in the pre-COVID times.
An exception was cricket. With no tournaments being organised in wake of the pandemic, coronavirus was “five times more searched than cricket”, showed the trends.
The top trending search term overall for May was Lockdown 4.0, followed by Eid Mubarak.
Netizens also sought answers to questions like “Which disease is related to coronavirus?”, “Can asymptomatic people spread coronavirus?” and “Will lockdown extend after 17 May?”.
The Indian government had announced a nationwide lockdown on March 25, which was extended in the following weeks. The third and the fourth phase of the lockdown was imposed between May 4-17, and May 18-31, respectively.
On searches relating to coronavirus, Google saw volumes for “coronavirus lockdown zones Delhi” spike 1,800 per cent over the month, while “Italy coronavirus vaccine” saw 750 per cent jump.
The top trending topic related to coronavirus was Vaccine that witnessed 190 per cent increase in May, the data showed.
The state/union territory with the highest search interest for coronavirus over May is Goa, followed by Meghalaya, Chandigarh and Tripura.
Meanwhile, in April, according to Google search trends, recipe related searches hit a new record high, peaking on April 19.
With neighbourhood mithai shops shut because of COVID-19 lockdown, people have donned the chefs hat to make samosas, momos, jalebis and even golgappas at home with the help of the Internet.
The data showed searches for Chicken momo recipe spiked 4,350 per cent, while that for Mango ice cream recipe rose 3,250 per cent in April.
Dalgona coffee – which became an online sensation as people shared photographs and videos of their creation on social media channels – saw a spike of 5,000 per cent on how to make the drink.
Interestingly, while cake topped the search tally for recipes during the month, people also looked for instructions around how to make samosa, jalebi, momos, dhokla, pani puri, dosa and paneer dishes.
Coronavirus was the third most searched topic in India during April – behind film and meaning that are consistently highly searched topics in the country.
However, compared with search interest in cricket – which is also a highly searched topic – coronavirus-related searches in the month were more than four times that of the average monthly volume for cricket.
The state with the highest search interest in April was from Meghalaya, followed by Tripura and Goa, the data showed.
Top trending searches included Coronavirus tips, Coronavirus prevention and lockdown as people searched for things like new guidelines for lockdown and how to get e-pass in lockdown.
While there were questions like will lockdown extend after 3 May and Is AC safe during coronavirus, people also sought answers to queries like How Kerala controlled coronavirus, How to wash vegetables coronavirus and When will lockdown end in India.
Netflix docuseries “Pandemic”, a look at how unprepared the world is for new viruses went viral due to its time of release in January this year.
Google searches worldwide for the series — as well as the “Plague” game and movie “Contagion” — have all skyrocketed in the last month.
Robert Bartholomew, a medical sociologist who explores mass hysteria says today’s non-stop news cycle pushes people to the internet to make sense of their fears.
“People are now in the habit of going online and subconsciously reducing their psychic stress through a quasi-ritualistic practice that involves using a keyboard,” he said.
“In the past, people might have gone to church and prayed, whereas today in a more secular age they go online and discuss their fears as a form of collective coping.”
(With inputs from agencies)