Although social presence plays an essential role under general conditions, its role becomes significant for societal protection during the quarantine period in epidemic outbreak. In this study, we attempted to identify the role of E-government and COVID-19 word of mouth in terms of their direct impact on online social presence during the outbreak as well as their impacts mediated by epidemic protection and attitudes toward epidemic outbreaks. For this purpose, a unique multi-mediation model is proposed to provide a new direction for research in the field of epidemic outbreaks and their control. Through random sampling, an online survey was conducted and data from 683participants were analyzed. Partial least squares structural equation modeling was used to test the relationships between the variables of interest. The study results revealed that the roles of E-government and COVID-19 word of mouth are positively related to online social presence during the outbreak. Epidemic protection and attitude toward epidemic outbreak were found to positively moderate the impact of the role of E-government and COVID-19 word of mouth on online social presence during the outbreak. The key findings of this study have both practical and academic implications.
Keywords: 2019-nCoV-WOM; epidemic outbreak; epidemic protection; quarantine; role of E-government; social presence theory.