MANILA -- World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Saturday reiterated the importance of "facts over fear" about the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China which continues to affect 24 countries worldwide.
"People must have access to accurate information to protect themselves and others. While the virus spreads, misinformation makes the job of our heroic health workers even harder. It is diverting the attention of decision makers and it causes confusion and spreads fear to the general public," Ghebreyesus said in a press briefing at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
Apart from coming up with strategies to fight the virus, Ghebreyesus said the WHO is also battling the trolls and conspiracy theorists that push misinformation and undermine the outbreak response.
"As a Guardian headline noted today, “Misinformation on the coronavirus might be the most contagious thing about it,” he added.
To ensure that right information on the issue spreads worldwide, Ghebreyesus said the WHO is using a four-pronged approach to fight misinformation.
"First, we’re leveraging our existing network called EPI-WIN -- which stands for WHO Information Network for Epidemics. The WHO’s risk communications and ‘infodemic’ management team actively track misinformation in multiple languages," he said.
Ghebreyesus added the WHO’s infodemics team and communications department work together to deliver information to a broader public audience which includes publishing of “myth busters” and Live Q&A (question and answer) interviews with experts on the WHO's website and social channels and through the media.
"Third, we are also engaging with search, social and digital companies such as Facebook, Google, Tencent, Baidu, Twitter, TikTok, Weibo, Pinterest and others. We are asking them to filter out false information and promote accurate information from credible sources like WHO, CDC and others. And we thank them for their efforts so far," he said.
With a focus on the Asia-Pacific region, Ghebreyesus reported that the WHO has connected with influencers in Instagram and YouTube to help spread factual messages to their followers. (PNA)