Fake news and ex­ces­sive buy­ing pro­motes panic

District Mail - - NUUS NEWS - JP My­burg

The Coro­n­avirus is caus­ing mas­sive hys­te­ria and panic across the world, with fake news cir­cu­lated ev­ery minute and peo­ple re­ly­ing on panic buy­ing.

The Western Cape gov­ern­ment has warned peo­ple not to ad­here or lis­ten to false claims on the in­ter­net. Many busi­nesses and shops also plead that peo­ple not go into a panic mode of buy­ing and con­sum­ing.

Coro­n­aviruses are a large group of viruses com­mon among an­i­mals. The viruses can make peo­ple sick, usu­ally with a mild to mod­er­ate up­per res­pi­ra­tory tract ill­ness, sim­i­lar to a com­mon cold.

A new Coro­n­avirus was iden­ti­fied in China as­so­ci­ated with an out­break of pneu­mo­nia. This virus is bet­ter known as the 2019 Novel Coro­n­avirus (2019nCoV or Covid-19), which has re­sulted in a num­ber of deaths – many in China, Italy, the UK and the Philip­pines.

Face­book, Twit­ter and many news pages have be­come hot­houses for fake news since the out­break oc­curred in Jan­uary.

Daniël Mashope, re­searcher and so­cial me­dia ex­pert in Cape Town, says such fake news causes un­nec­es­sary panic and so­cial me­dia out­lets should mon­i­tor all news re­lat­ing to the virus.

“It is im­por­tant to know all the right facts re­lat­ing to in­ci­dents like this,” he said, “so ed­u­ca­tion is key.”

The Western Cape gov­ern­ment re­leased an in-depth in­fo­graphic on the dis­ease, which is avail­able online.

In it, it states cur­rent trav­ellers to Wuhan, China and other af­fected ar­eas of the coun­try are at great­est risk of in­fec­tion, and other high-risk coun­tries are the UK, USA and Switzer­land.

Peo­ple who de­velop symp­toms of res­pi­ra­tory ill­ness, in­clud­ing a cough, fever or short­ness of breath within 14 days of trav­el­ling to coun­tries where the Covid-19 is known to be cir­cu­lat­ing, should seek med­i­cal care early and share in­for­ma­tion about travel his­tory with their doc­tors.

There are cur­rently no vac­cines avail­able to pro­tect peo­ple against hu­man Coro­n­avirus in­fec­tion.

Peo­ple are also cur­rently buy­ing mas­sive amounts of toi­let pa­per, canned goods and other non-per­ish­able items. The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion said in a state­ment that peo­ple should not start panic buy­ing and leave prod­ucts for oth­ers who also need it, as times are un­cer­tain.

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