Yesterday morning, Seven’s Sunrise aired a segment about Australia’s China travel ban, complete with a map that claimed to show the spread of coronavirus Covid-19 from the city of Wuhan. Introducing the piece, host Samantha Armytage said:

“This map shows the movement of 60,000 of the estimated 5 million people who got out of the Chinese city of Wuhan before it was placed into lockdown. The map shows that they have traveled to all corners of the globe.”

It sure sounded compelling, but in fact, it shows nothing of the sort.

The graphic, which has been shared by a number of world media outlets over the past several days, has nothing to do with Wuhan. If you look closely at it, you can even see that most of the flight paths actually go through London and New York, far away from the Chinese city.

So if the map doesn’t show the spread of coronavirus, what does it show? According to its creator, Professor Andrew Tatem, it actually depicts global air traffic patterns from 2010, and was originally published in a research paper back in 2014.

On February 5 of this year, Tatem and his team from the University of Southampton published a paper identifying cities that might be at risk from the spread of coronavirus. When they put the paper on Twitter, they include the 2014 map, to give a general idea of global flight paths.

Tatem has since clarified that the map was used “simply to illustrate global connectivity through flights nowadays,” and was never intended to be an actual model for how coronavirus might spread.

A number of people pointed out that the Tweet could be misleading, so Tatem and his team decided to take the original versison down and replace it with a more accurate image.

By that stage, however, it was too late, and many media outlets – including Sunrise, The The New Daily, Nine and News Corp – had taken the map and run with it.

Current figures from China indicate that the death toll from Covid-19 is approaching 1,400, while the total number of infections is close to 65,000. Three deaths have been reported outside of mainland China, in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan.

Australia’s initial 14-day China travel ban was set to end today, but has been extended to at least February 22.