Fake News Costing Coronavirus Preparedness in Malawi
The cost of preparing for the possible arrival of corona virus and COVID19 in Malawi is fast rising with increased false messages courtesy of social media.
Health authorities have raised issue with growth of fake news related to the pandemic which is sending response teams on wild guise chase and consequently spending meagre resources on unsound ground.
One senior health official told us "It is very unfortunate that people are circulating these false messages which are causing panic in people. It is quiet costly for us because we have to investigate each and every such tips".
Information Communication Technology Association of Malawi has also observed that fake news on Corona virus 19 which people are sharing using ICT gadgets like Cellphones and computers is instilling fear among people in the country.
President of the association, Braum Fudzulani has told Zodiak Online on Monday that the organisation and other stakeholders are discussing appropriate messaging of the pandemic and how they can deal with the problem of fake news.
"Our discussion is based on what we should provide to the citizenry. We want people to use correct and right information, on the disease,’’ said Fudzulani.
Fudzulani cited Ministry of Health, Malawi Regulatory Authority Macra, as some of the partners they are discussing the matter with.
Government has set aside K2.4bn for response to the pandemic and part of the money is for production of messages for public awareness.
Spokesperson for the Ministry, Joshua Malango, has disclosed that spreading of fake news is heavily costing the government and causing unneccessary discomfort.
"Apart from losing money to verify fake news; we are also wasting time to verify these bogus reports," he said.
There are increased reports of suspected cases of corona virus infections, in some cases even suggesting further infections.
Malawi has yet to record an official case of corona virus infection.
The closest cases of registered COVID19 cases are in neighboring Zambia and Tanzania.