Pacific Media Watch

11 March 2020

GLOBAL: Scientists call for media sobriety amid Covid-19 fake news ‘infodemic’

Medical staff demonstrating the "elbow shake" in a health and safety workshop in the Timor-Leste capital of Dili. Image: Siarai Martins

By Dr Crispin Maslog
MANILA (Sci-Dev Net/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): As fake news on Covid-19 spreads faster than the virus, scientists call for a halt to the “infodemic”.

As China admits that the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) is now the worst public health crisis that the country has faced since its founding, a group of scientists has sent out a piercing appeal for sobriety in media coverage of the epidemic.

The scientists in a statement published on February 19 in one of the world’s leading science journals, Lancet, appealed for support for the scientists, public health professionals and medical professionals.

VIEW: The coronavirus world map

“We are public health scientists who have closely followed the emergence of 2019 novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and are deeply concerned about its impact on global health and wellbeing.

“We have watched as the scientists, public health professionals, and medical professionals of China, in particular, have worked diligently and effectively to rapidly identify the pathogen behind this outbreak, put in place significant measures to reduce its impact, and share their results transparently with the global health community.

“This effort has been remarkable,” the scientists said in a formal statement which they asked the public to endorse and sign.

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