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The Infodemic – fake Covid-19 news spreading like a virus

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The Infodemic – fake Covid-19 news spreading like a virus | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Be informed and don't consume illogical rubbish news about Covid-19 - Bangkok Post
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Social media messages peddling fake Covid-19 cures, dire warnings of draconian lockdowns that prompt panic buying, propaganda by celebrities who should know better – all this and more in the latest viral outbreak, the Infodemic.

Some popular myths about Covid-19 below

Disinformation, ‘fake news’, misinformation, just plain propaganda… it’s not just harmless gossip, it can help to spread the coronavirus and undermine government and health officials’ ability to mount a properly co-ordinated and intelligent response.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organisation has addressed the problem many times since the outbreak kicked off in China at the start of the year.

“We’re concerned about the levels of rumours and misinformation that are hampering the response.”

“But we’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as dangerous.”

Apart from the sociopaths and psychopaths who just spread rubbish news and conspiracy theories ‘for the fun of it’, there’s also the people who are trying to make a buck from the poorly educated and gullible who are wading through the internet for real news about Covid-19. Clicks generate money and fake news on Covid-19 generates clicks.

Quack remedies, spiritual cures, convoluted theories with zero evidence and politically charged rhetoric play well in driving traffic.

In a recent blog the Social Observatory for Disinformation and Social Media Analysis (SOMA) says “conspiracy theories related to the origins of this virus have been created. Some of these have been translated and shared by websites that are known for profiting on disinformation”.

Following the European Commission Communication on tackling online disinformation, SOMA has been launched to provide support to a European community that will jointly fight disinformation.

“Some of the misleading health tips – drinking lots of water or eating raw ginger to counter the coronavirus – also end up on the mainstream news outlets. This risks undermining public trust in new sources generally. By the way, drinking adequate water every day is certainly a benefit to your health, but it’s not a cure for Covid-19.

Beyond the misinformation there are also ‘harmful ‘cures’ advertised for sale on social media and by irresponsible online conspiracy theorists. Making money out of people’s ignorance and suffering.

The WHO has also set up a ‘Myth Busters’ section on its website to deal specifically with some of the false claims that are circulating.

Here’s a few other false facts and fake news that has been circulating on social media…

The new coronavirus can be spread by mosquito bites and in Chinese food

Wrong. Covid-19 causes a respiratory disease that spreads primarily via droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or breathes out, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. Mosquitos can spread Dengue (don’t we know!) and Chinese food can usually only spread a satisfying serve of special fried rice (and other delicious menu items).

Regularly rinsing your nose with salt and water can prevent infection

Wrong. There is zero evidence that regularly rinsing out your nose with saline solution has protected anyone. It will not prevent you from catching respiratory infections. It will be extremely uncomfortable and probably make you cough and splutter, making people think you have Covid-19.

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body can protect you against Covid-19 infection and… gargling bleach or drinking excessive amounts of water can flush out the virus

Wrong and Wrong. There is no evidence to support either of these ridiculous claims. Good hygiene practices and frequent hand washing plus the well-established practice of social distancing may help reduce the risk of infection. (Actually if you lock yourself up in a Nunery, without any nuns (or anyone else) you can guarantee you won’t catch Covid-19… until you eventually leave the nunnery).

Hand dryers are effective in killing the new coronavirus

Wrong. Hand dryers are not effective against Covid-19. But drying your hands with an air dryer, or hair dryer, is an effective and safe way to keep your hands clean. Hair dryers are also useful for people with lots of hair, actors, make-up artists and ladyboys. We’re not sure exactly how the people coming up with idea were actually going to use the hair-dryer to prevent catching Covid-19… perhaps pointing it an infected person in the hope they will think it’s a gun?

Cold weather, hot weather, snow, eating garlic and taking a hot bath will also prevent you from getting Covid-19

Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. Tell the northern Italians, living in cold weather and eating plenty of garlic, about that. Same with hot weather. Tell the people in Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Pakistan and Israel about your brilliant theory. There is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 will be affected by general weather or the seasons at this stage.

You should wear a face mask at all times when outdoors

Wrong. People who are healthy, have no symptoms and have not been diagnosed with Covid-19 do not need to wear a mask. Masks are only effective if you are coughing or sneezing – in which case you should be self isolating. The acute shortage of face masks, because of people’s over zealous response to the virus, is causing shortages for the people that need them – health care workers, patients and people displaying possible symptoms of Covid-19.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Arriving flights banned until the end of Monday – CAAT

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Arriving flights banned until the end of Monday – CAAT | The Thaiger

Thailand’s CAAT is stopping all passenger flights from arriving in Thailand from this morning (Saturday) until the end of Monday. The country’s Civil Aviation Authority made the order late yesterday, throwing repatriation efforts of several countries into complete confusion. Stranded visitors, hoping to get home, now find their weekend hopes of repatriation dashed.

The country’s aviation regulators say the move is to curb the outbreak of Covid-19.

The problem for passengers trying to fly out is that their planes will now be unable to land until Tuesday. In Phuket’s case there are are some 700-900 passengers who were ready to fly home over the next three days, according to a person familiar with the situation. Phuket’s airport then closes until the end of April on April 10.

“Anyone arriving on a flight that took off before the order came into effect will need to be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival in Thailand.”

The announcement to close all Thailand’s international airports for three days was made just hours after a debacle at Suvarnabhumi airport when more than 100 Thai nationals arrived on different flights on Friday.

Flights from the US and Japan, carrying Thai nationals, landed at Suvarnabhumi. Thais were returning home to be with their family. But many were unaware of strict government measures introduced on Thursday requiring everyone arriving, including Thais, to be quarantined for 14 days and undergo government health checks.

Arriving flights banned until the end of Monday - CAAT | News by The Thaiger

Worse, a new curfew that kicked in at 10pm meant they were unable to leave the airport building, with cars, taxis and trains not running because of the government-announced curfew.

The rules sparked chaos in the arrivals area near the baggage carousels with some passengers allegedly trying to get past the guards. A spokesperson familiar with the situation acknowledged the commotion.

“A public health officer allowed them to quarantine themselves at home. There was a commotion because they said they weren’t aware they had to be put in a state quarantine.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | DailyMotion

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Coronavirus UPDATE: Tokyo faces climbing case numbers, makers of ‘Corona’ beer suspend production

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus UPDATE: Tokyo faces climbing case numbers, makers of ‘Corona’ beer suspend production | The Thaiger

The international toll has reached 1,097,810 and deaths 59,140 with no sign of a slowdown at this stage (7.30am Thai time). The world will be adding 100,000+ new case every 24 hours within the next few days unless we start to see a flattening of the curve.

The US has had another day of burden for its health system – 32,000 new cases identified and 1,320 deaths. The Covid-19 virus also continues to spread at pace throughout key European countries with Italy and Spain hit particularly hard with with death rates around the 10% mark. Iran stands out amongst Middle East countries with the worst problem by far, having amassed 53,000+ cases and 3,294 deaths. Saudi Arabia still sits at just over 2,000 cases but is seeing a small and steady rise.

Here’s the latest stats from Worldometers.com this morning…

Coronavirus UPDATE: Tokyo faces climbing case numbers, makers of 'Corona' beer suspend production | News by The Thaiger

Snippets of news from around the world…

THAILAND

Covid-19 coronavirus cases in Thailand rose to 1,978 yesterday with 103 new cases confirmed and another 4 patients dying from Covid-19 complications. Total deaths nationwide now stand at 19.

Yesterday’s numbers reinforce a hopeful trend in Thailand of new cases levelling off as restrictions tighten across the country this week. In Pattaya, and the province of Chonburi, provincial leaders are considering a full lockdown to outsiders after the rise of new coronavirus infections this week, almost half of them in and around Pattaya.

Pattaya City is ordering all hotels to alert their guests about the plan and check their numbers in the next three days before the lockdown is announced. Restrictions will include curfews, hotel closures and restrictions on employees leaving the province. Phuket added 13 new cases, reaching 100 cases in total. As with many new cases over the week, most were centred around Patong’s entertainment zone of Bangla Road.

JAPAN

In Tokyo, the daily count of new coronavirus cases has doubled over the past 7 days, from about 40 in the final days of March to 97 last Thursday and 89 yesterday. If the current trend continues, the outlook is bleak, according to an infection control specialist from Kobe University, Kentaro Iwata. He has repeatedly warned that Japan isn’t doing enough to halt the spread of the virus.

“Japan needs to have the courage to change, when we are aware we are on the wrong path. We might see the next New York City in Tokyo.”

US

Health authorities in the US have modified their position on the widespread application of non-medical masks for citizens. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending the general public wear non-medical, cloth masks in public places to help blunt the spread of the virus. The move comes after new research highlights a significant number of people who are not showing symptoms may still have the virus and are spreading it unknowingly amongst the US community.

US President Donald Trump, who remains guarded about the recommendations from his leading Covid-19 scientific advisers, said of the recommendation to wear masks… “So it’s voluntary, you don’t have to do it. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”

Federal emergency workers in New York say they are now working quickly to meet demand for medical supplies in the increasingly deadly Covid-19 outbreak.

MEXICO

Mexico’s largest brewing exporter, Grupo Modelo, says it will temporarily stop brewing Corona beer and other brands exported to 180 countries after its business activities were declared ‘non-essential’ under Mexican government orders aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. The brewer says the suspension will go into place from Sunday.

“If the federal government considers it appropriate to issue some clarification confirming beer as an agro-industrial product, at Grupo Modelo we are ready to execute a plan with more than 75% of our staff working from home and at the same time guaranteeing the supply of beer.”

CHINA

A group of Chinese mountaineers have started an expedition to climb Mount Everest while the site remains closed to foreign climbers because of coronavirus. Only Chinese climbers are permitted to join the climbs this spring season because of the pandemic.

The highest mountain in the world straddles the borders of China and Nepal and can be climbed from both sides. Nepal cancelled all expeditions already whilst China has closed its side to all foreign climbers.

Two dozen+ Chinese climbers tackling the Mount Everest challenge are expected to reach the advanced base camp at an altitude of 6,450 metres today. Mount Everest’s peak is 8,848 metres.

ITALY

The number of deaths from coronavirus in Italy continued to rise steeply yesterday with another 766 fatalities . Over 6,000 patients remained in a critical condition. Italy’s overall death toll now stands at 14,681 leaving Italy as the country worst hit by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

But experts believe the real toll from the virus in Italy is likely far higher. Matteo Villa is a researcher at the Italian Institute for Political Studies and author of a new study titled ”Coronavirus: Lethality in Italy, between appearance and reality”. He claims that the death toll may have been underestimated by up to 6,000, or a third of the official total.

“For sure, the figures are wrong.”

Here’s yesterday’s ‘Thailand News Today program…

 

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Google will publish user location data to aid in the fight against Covid-19

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Google will publish user location data to aid in the fight against Covid-19 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: threatpost.com

Today in Paris, Google has announced that it will start publishing location data from its users located in 131 countries, starting today. This will be done to allow the governments to indicate the performance of social distancing to help in the combat of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reports of users’ movement will be recorded on a special website and will ‘chart movement trends over time by geography’. Trends will be displayed as ‘a percentage point increase or decrease in visits’ to locations like parks, shops, homes and places of work.

Leader of Google Maps Jen Fitzpatrick, and the company’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo says…

“We hope these reports will help support decisions about how to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, this information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.”

Similar to the measurement of traffic on Google Maps, the new reports will use “aggregated, anonymised” data from users who have activated their location history. No “personally identifiable information,” such as a person’s location, contacts or movements, will be made available. To ensure this the reports will also employ a statistical technique that adds “artificial noise” to raw data, making it harder for users to be identified.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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