By Alois Vinga
FAKE news and misinformation have remained the two worst threats towards enforcement of the Covi-19 fight in Zimbabwe, the country’s chief Covid-19 response coordinator in the office of the President and Cabinet, Agnes Mahomva, has said.
Mahomva’s remarks came on the backdrop of unethical news peddlers taking advantage of social media platforms to peddle falsehoods which are discouraging citizens to adhere to the required adherence protocols.
“Fake news and misinformation on Covid-19 continues to fuel poor adherence to recommended preventative measures. This is a big challenge. A lot of work is currently going into multimedia information campaigns to counter this,” said Mahomva in a recent report.
The World Health Organisation has since acknowledged the impact of Infodermic – the impact of misinformation on a global scale- as one of the greatest challenges in the face of the fight against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
The global organ on health reports that during the first three months of 2020, nearly 6,000 people around the globe were hospitalised because of coronavirus misinformation.
During this period in the United Kingdom, researchers say at least 800 people may have died due to misinformation related to COVID-19.
“False information runs the gamut, from discrediting the threat of COVID-19 to conspiracy theories that vaccines could alter human DNA,” observed WHO.
To counter this, media organisations in Zimbabwe have establishing dedicated sections and columns in their publications for purposes of disseminating credible information on issues relating to the Covid19 pandemic..
Meanwhile , Mahomva also bemoaned the low risk perception at individual levels which she said was contributing to limited adherence to recommended prevention measures.
She said an unacceptably large percent of individuals were of the view that they would not be infected by the virus.
“Unfortunately, this is not the case. We are all at risk especially now as the third wave rages on,” she said.
She underscored the need to share correct information that addresses some of the vaccine myths and misinformation circulating on social media.
Mahomva said a survey by a team of global scientists in August 2020, showed that about 61 % of Zimbabweans planned to get vaccinated.
The country has since had a very successful “get vaccinated” campaign which is still running.
This, she said, had probably raised the number of vaccinated people to a much higher level as evidenced by the multitudes seeking vaccines.