Combatting Coronavirus Fake News

Mayo Clinic expert offers insight on COVID-19 | 

Feb 27, 2020

Mayo Clinic News Network – COVID-19, which was first detected in Wuhan City in China, has now been identified in 37 countries, including the U.S.

U.S. cases of COVID-19 have been limited so far. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now confirmed the first possible U.S. case of “community spread,” meaning the patient didn’t travel anywhere known to have the virus and wasn’t exposed to anyone known to be infected.

“We’ll have to find out a bit more about where or how this person may have acquired the disease,” says Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist:

“We do know that it can be spread from person to person and now we’re seeing the virus appear in many different countries around the world. We do expect that it will start to circulate in the U.S.

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“We’re watching and waiting to see when this might happen, and cases like this may be some of the first clues to suggest that the virus has entered its way into the country.”

Watch: Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse talks about COVID-19.

The CDC says that the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, both globally and across the U.S.

COVID-19 can cause various symptoms that may appear two to 14 days after exposure. The most common symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild to severe, including death. More than 80% of cases are mild.

The CDC and the World Health Organization are closely monitoring the evolving health situation and offer updated information, as available. Learn more about coronaviruses.

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Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network

Fake Facts Are Flying About Coronavirus. Now There’s A Plan To Debunk Them

Feb. 24, 2020

NPR – 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.

The false statements range from a conspiracy theory that the virus is a man-made bioweapon to the claim that more than 100,000 have died from the disease (as of this week, the number of reported fatalities is reported at 2,200-plus).

WHO is fighting back. In early January, a few weeks after China reported the first cases, the U.N. agency launched a pilot program to make sure the facts about the newly identified virus are communicated to the public. The project is called EPI-WIN — short for WHO Information Network for Epidemics.

“We need a vaccine against misinformation,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies program, at a WHO briefing on the virus earlier this month.

While this is not the first health crisis that has been characterized by online misinformation — it happened with Ebola, for example — researchers are especially concerned because this outbreak is centered in China.

The world’s most populous country has the largest market of Internet users globally: 21% of the world’s 3.8 billion Internet users are in China.

And 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.”

The reason, say the researchers, may be that the untrue statements inspire strong feelings such as fear, disgust and surprise.

This dynamic could cause fake coronavirus cures and treatments to fan out widely on social media — and as a result, worsen the impact of the outbreak, says Bhaskar Chakravorti, dean of global business at the Fletcher School at Tufts University … READ MORE. 


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