Statement by Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Partnerships, on coronavirus misinformation
All you need to know: here
AMMAN/ NEW YORK, 9 March 2020 – “All around the world, people are taking 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. Misinformation during times of a health crisis can spread paranoia, fear, and stigmatization. It can also result in people being left unprotected or more vulnerable to the virus.
“For example, a recent erroneous online message circulating in several languages around the world and purporting to be a UNICEF communication appears to indicate, among other things, that avoiding ice cream and other cold foods can help prevent the onset of the disease. This is, of course, wholly untrue.
“To the creators of such falsehoods, we offer a simple message: STOP. Sharing inaccurate information and attempting to imbue it with authority by misappropriating the names of those in a position of trust is dangerous and wrong.
“To members of the public, we ask that you seek accurate information about how to keep yourself and your family safe from verified sources, such as UNICEF or WHO, government health officials and trusted healthcare professionals; and that you refrain from sharing information from untrustworthy or unverified sources.
“It can be difficult in today’s information-rich society to know exactly where to go for knowledge about how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. But it is critical that we remain as diligent about the accuracy of the information we share as we are about every other precaution we take to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.
“UNICEF is actively taking steps to provide accurate information about the virus by working with the World Health Organization, government authorities and with online partners like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok to make sure that accurate information and advice is available, as well as taking steps to inform the public when inaccurate information emerges.
Notes to Editors:
- Decisions to close schools and other public institutions in response to a public health crisis are generally made by government and health authorities. Such decisions should always be made based on scientific evidence and local risk of infection.
- Where schools remain open, safe operational guidelines should be followed to ensure that children and their families remain protected and informed. Schools can be used as important mechanisms to provide children with vital information about how to protect themselves and their families.
- Over 17 million students are directly affected by country-wide school closures in the MENA region (including in Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon and the UAE), and additional students are at potential risk in countries with localized school closures (including Iraq and the State of Palestine). Source: UNESCO’s estimation of Coronavirus’ impact in education.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.
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