July 16, 2021 11:56:19 pm
The Covid-19 pandemic has emerged as a significant and global public health crisis. Amidst this, there has been a hidden epidemic of ‘information’ that makes Covid-19 stand out as a ‘digital infodemic’, compared to earlier outbreaks, said experts.
Speaking on disinformation and misinformation during the Infodemic Pandemic eSummit, Dr Sanjay Kumar Rai, president of the Indian Public Health Association and professor at the Department of Community Medicine, AIIMS, said, “The combination of misinformation and disinformation, which is called infodemic, has been happening since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the recent example of misinformation is that – the third wave of Covid will impact children – this is complete misinformation as there is no scientific basis behind it. Also, we see people wear hand gloves perceiving that it will protect them from infection, but it doesn’t help in this, on the contrary, it helps spread the virus as while wearing hand gloves, you don’t wash hands and touch other surfaces – in this way there is the probability of spreading the virus. To keep people away from infodemic, community education is required, wherein the role of public health experts is significant.”
Dr Rajib Das Gupta, chairperson of the Centre of Social Medicine & Community Health, JNU, said, “In the context of Covid-19 pandemic, infodemic was described as an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not…. this makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when needed. Interestingly, the World Economic Forum cautions these as digital wildfires. The Covid rumor waves started as early as the third week of January and the second rumor surfaced in the month of February. There has been confusion all around, and all forms of media are pumping the information but all are not credible. There has been a very complex situation as a multitude of activities are going on. There is a lack of risk communication.”
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