Infodemic: Break cycle of misinformation on COVID-19, UN agency tells Nigerians

Illustration of people wearing masks against a backdrop of phones and other personal devices sending pollution into the air.

The UN Information Centre (UNIC) has called for more efforts from all Nigerians toward ending the menace of misinformation in the country.

The UNIC National Information Officer, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, who said this at a Webinar on “Overriding Influence of misinformation’’ on the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, described misinformation as a common enemy.

He noted that the world should not continue to spread falsehood,  which was orchestrated campaigns, putting lives at risk.

According to him, myth about COVID-19 is global, hence the decision of WHO to build conversations around myth busters and encourage partnership with the social media platforms to counter such spread.

He said such activities through the UN Regional Information Centre, inciting and misleading posts without medical advice had been filtered down and brought down in facebook and other platforms.

Soremekun said the UN body had partnered with celebrities, musicians and comedians to develop contents to reflect true narratives about COVlD-19.

He added that traditional and religious leaders had been engaged with consideration with messages in local languages to pass authentic reports, especially in rural areas.

“One of it is the song by Cobhams Asuquo, which is currently trending. Our programme interventions also consider inclusion as needs of persons with disabilities is looked into.”

He urged Nigerians to play their part to break the spread of misinformation received on their phones or other devices, saying this was the only way to break the cycle of fake news in the country.

Earlier, the WHO Representative, Dhamari Naidoo, said current data on COVID-19 was being collated from the national level situation reports.

She said currently, there was no evidence to show that cloth face masks were effective enough to prevent spread of the virus, but emphasise that the WHO was still collecting data on its effectiveness.

According to her, cloth masks may limit transmission, emphasising that those to be used must adhere to be breathable, and cover the vital areas of the face.

“We know they may limit transmission, we are still gathering data, we must adhere to the requirements that cloth face masks must be breathable, the shape must cover the vital part of the face.

“We are still studying, no one can necessarily say yes or no at this point in time.”

According to the WHO, the COVID-19 pandemic is accompanied by an Infodemic, a spread of disinformation and misinformation, making it difficult for people to get accurate information for informed decisions.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Webinar was organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.