UNICEF says it is concerned about the amount of fake news and misinformation on coronavirus (COVID-19) saying if left unchecked it will cause unnecessary panic around the world.
110,090 have so far been infected by the coronavirus worldwide while 3831 have succumbed to the deadly disease.
In a statement, Unicef said misinformation on coronavirus is causing a lot of paranoia, fear and stigma while leaving millions vulnerable to the virus.
“All around the world, people are taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families from coronavirus. Sound preparation, based on scientific evidence, is what is needed at this time.
“However, while many people are sharing information about the virus and how to protect against it, only some of that information is useful or reliable, said the UN Agency.
The coronavirus outbreak has sparked what the World Health Organization is calling an “infodemic” — an overwhelming amount of information on social media and websites. Some of it’s accurate. And some is downright untrue.
“We need a vaccine against misinformation,” said Dr Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies program, at a WHO briefing on the virus last month.
Fake news can spread quickly online. A 2018 study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that “false news spreads more rapidly on the social network Twitter than real news does.”
In Zimbabwe, there has been growing frustration form the citizens over government’s lack of clarity on the virus.
There are fears that the Ministry of Information, which is mandated to deliver any government communications, is withholding critical information on the virus while spreading falsehoods on the true nature of the COVID-19.
According to government, Zimbabwe is yet to record any confirmed case of the virus although there have been five (5) suspected cases, which are also said to have tested negative.
There have been several reports on twitter from various twitter handles, some from well-known personalities who claim that Zimbabwe, has, in fact, had two coronavirus related deaths, claims which the government declined.