How Fake News is making the COVID-19 pandemic worse and complicated?August 21, 2020 19:55
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The messages may or may not be powerful but they unnecessarily create some false sense of security and fear which is dangerous than the real COVID-19 pandemic.
A juice made of Datura seeds has caused havoc in a family of Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh.
A tik-tok which was circulating all over claimed that drinking Datura seeds juice will protect people from COVID-19. Believing this news, 12 people in a village in Chittoor fell seriously ill and had to be hospitalized after they drank this juice.
In yet another incident, a pharmacist died after he drank a chemical composition which he believed could cure coronavirus in the body.
This is how serious a forward message on Whatsapp or a viral video on Instagram or TikTok can be.
According to a study published in The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, at least 800 people have died globally and over 5800 people have been hospitalized over unproven scientific claims of the cure for the virus.
The study published that 60 people became completely blind after consuming methanol believing that it was a cure for the novel coronavirus.
How harmful is misinformation?
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Doctors claim that fake news creates a sense of false security and can be fatal.
Dr. Sumit Ray, Head of Critical Care Medicine at Holy Family Hospital spoke to The Quint and said that fake messages and remedies may or may not harm the person but will inject a sense of security that they become oblivious to the real precautionary measures they must follow.
Social media messages about the prevention of coronavirus have ranged from being stupid to hilarious to extremely dangerous.
Who is sharing these messages?
Shockingly, not only the users on social media share these fake messages but top leaders across the world have also amplified this propaganda.
Donald Trump once endorsed that injecting people with disinfectants and exposure to sunlight can cure COVID-19.
Assam’s BJP MLA Suman Haripriya said that cow urine is a possible cure for the virus.
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev suggested that applying mustard oil through nostrils can cure the virus.
The pseudo doctors on Whatsapp claiming to be specialists suggested self diagnosable ways to heal COVID-19.
All these are baseless and unproven claims that are being circulated and if top officials or leaders speak anything unproven, it will be followed by many people causing unending harm to the followers. So, when a top bureaucrat or a celebrity is speaking something related to the cure of COVID-19, they must think twice and act wise.
Misinformation fuelled by rumors has led to violence against health workers from Indore. Reportedly, this incident also happened because of the messages that started doing rounds claiming that health workers are injecting people with the virus.
The health workers of Indore said that they went to a colony in Indore to perform contact tracing and upon seeing them, people have started pelting stones. The next day, they got to know that, a fake message circulated on Whatsapp saying doctors are injecting virus into patients.
These colony people believed it and started attacking health workers who came for the people’s good.
So, inorder to fight the virus, we must first fight with misinformation. Follow your doctor’s advice if you fall sick and not any WhatsApp forward. Verify every bit of information you receive about the virus.
By Gayatri Yellayi