London — The director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) says people need access to accurate information to protect themselves in the coronavirus outbreak.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 8, 2020
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned misinformation was making the WHO’s job harder as well as causing confusion and spreading fear among the public, Metro online writes.
As well as battling the virus, Dr Ghebreyesus said health chiefs are also fighting back against trolls and conspiracy theorists who are undermining the WHO’s response.
Several coronavirus conspiracy theories have spread online with Russia’s Channel One claiming President Trump and the US government is behind the outbreak, while claims people should keep their throats moist, avoid spicy food and load up on Vitamin C to avoid the virus have all been proved to be false.
Dr Ghebreyesus said the WHO’s communications team has redoubled its efforts to track misinformation in several languages.
The WHO is also asking social media companies to filter out fake news, while appealing to influencers to spread factual messages to their followers, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
China’s virus death toll rose by 89 on Sunday to 811, passing the number of fatalities in the 2002-2003 Sars epidemic, but fewer new cases were reported.