Nurses prepare themselves for coronavirus testing at El Paso Community College Valle Verde campus, on July 21, 2020. — Photo AFP
Infodemics, often including rumours, stigma and conspiracy theories, have been common since the early days of COVID-19 and occurred in waves, according to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
This could have serious implications for the health of individuals and community efforts to contain the pandemic, if prioritised over evidence-based guidelines, it said in a report released last month.
The agency urged health agencies to track misinformation in real time and engage local communities to debunk fake reports.
The society's analysis of social media reports between Dec 31 last year and April 5 this year covered 87 places around the world.
It found that rumours were the most prevalent. These related to the Covid-19 disease and its transmission and mortality.
There were worrisome ones such as spraying chlorine to prevent the coronavirus and miracle mineral solutions that involved mixing sodium chloride solution with citric acid for immunity and cure.
The report notes that misinformation led to stigmatisation in several countries, with healthcare workers being bullied. — THE STRAIT TIMES