Infodemic: Rise of Misinformation

With a rise of infections and deaths with the coronavirus (now 266,073 cases with 11,184 deaths worldwide), this pandemic is also fueling a growing 'infodemic'. Giving way to a sea of misinformation, this 'infodemic' is mainly stemming from fear, uncertainty and even opportunistic marketing. In an era where ‘information’ is just a tweet away, the spread and acceptance of coronavirus misinformation can easily be facilitated without much thought along with individuals making a profit and getting others to adopt certain practices. The challenge is how do we maintain and build trust during a pandemic, in a way where we can combat the misinformation, help those in the community and uplift the public who should be listening to good, trustworthy science – which still do exist.

First, we have to counter ‘fake’ news and “peer-to-peer propaganda.” This largely started in the political arena but now trickling into pandemic response. We must continue to cite or attribute advice from experts to ensure the knowledge is transparent and accurate. Sure, institutions and experts may not always be 100% accurate or right all the time - but transparency and truth will set everyone free. Lack of updates from reputable sources do not mean to blindly accept updates from non-reputable sources. For example, just because the experts at World Health Organization (WHO) or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) haven’t updated their website or provided a press conference with information does not mean let’s trust the mass-chain text that is coming from WhatsApp or Facebook group (Note: there is now an official WHO WhatsApp messaging service via partnership between WHO and Facebook/WhatsApp. The Health Alert service is now available in English and will be introduced in other languages next week. To access it, send the word "hi" to the following number on WhatsApp: +41 798 931 892). This novel disease is new (it is in the name) and there is so much to learn. Lastly, let’s reduce the stigma associated with the pandemic. Knowing and sharing scientific facts can help to stop the stigma that is emerging which is leading into a rise of discrimination and racism. Below are good facts against any disease which hasn’t change for coronavirus and from CDC:

Disease can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity
 Someone who has completed quarantine or has been released from isolation does not pose risk of infection to other people
You can help stop the pandemic by knowing the signs and symptoms and practicing social distancing


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