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Misinformation frustrates Covid fight

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Gospel Kazako

While campaign continues to have more people vaccinated and adhere to set preventive measures in the face of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a concern over continued misinformation among the public.

This is thought to be distracting some people from coming forward to receive the Covid-19 jab which government, through the Ministry of Health, is offering to the public for free.

A snap survey by Malawi News in some parts of Blantyre and Mzuzu cities shows that some people have chosen to be indifferent while others are afraid to get the Covid-19 jab due to some myths and lies peddled in their communities.

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Speaking on Thursday, Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda conceded that misinformation is frustrating government’s efforts in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

She was making a contribution during a virtual workshop on Covid-19 misinformation and disinformation policy research dissemination.

“In most instances, misinformation and disinformation is making people not to adhere to the preventive measures. In some societies, people become aggressive towards the health workers and other frontline workers and it has also led to others refusing to take the Covid-19 vaccine,” Chiponda said.

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She challenged researchers and government to find ways of stopping Covid-19 misinformation which is usually peddled through social media.

Professor Sosten Chiotha conducted the research on Covid-19 misinformation and disinformation while Paul Baines and Professor Reiko Heckel from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom were principal investigators.

They point out that too much information, including false, misleading information during a disease outbreak causes confusion and risk-taking behaviour that can harm individuals.

According to the findings, this intensifies or prolongs the outbreak and can create mistrust and undermine, public health resources

“Expansion of social media and internet has positive outcome in information access but can also foster fast spread of misinformation,” the findings read in part.

Minister of Information Gospel Kazako said his ministry would ensure that messages on Covid-19 are in line with United Nations pillars.

“The communication cluster which my ministry falls under, is spearheading proper messaging and communication on Covid-19,” Kazako said.

On Thursday, 187 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in the country while 16 people had died due to the pandemic.

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