We're reading the coronavirus numbers wrong

Up-to-the-minute reports and statistics can unintentionally distort the facts

Numbers have a certain mystique: They seem precise, exact, sometimes even beyond doubt. But outside the field of pure mathematics, this reputation rarely is deserved.

And when it comes to the coronavirus epidemic, buying into that can be downright dangerous.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2020, with the headline 'We're reading the coronavirus numbers wrong'. Print Edition | Subscribe