International organizations, governments of various countries, experts, scholars, and media are calling for scientific approaches, rationality, and cooperation to cope with the current public health challenge facing mankind.
Highlighting the huge challenge the coronavirus outbreak is posing, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said recently that China has made a “very strong and very impressive response.” The huge efforts made by the country will curb the spread of the virus, he added.
Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, or COVID-19, China has strengthened communication with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the international society in an open, transparent, and responsible manner.
It has saved valuable time for global epidemic prevention, built a line of defense to control the spread of the epidemic, and set a new benchmark for global epidemic prevention.
Recently, representatives of the WHO and American technology companies held a special meeting on how to prevent the spread of misinformation about the epidemic on the internet.
WHO representative Andy Pattinson described the fake information surrounding the novel coronavirus outbreak as an “information epidemic”. At the meeting, the WHO and U.S. technology enterprises reached an agreement on issues regarding the epidemic, with the latter pledging to take measures to guide information searching, promoting reliable information sources and purifying the public opinion environment for epidemic prevention and control.
“While the virus spreads, misinformation makes the job of our heroic health workers even harder. It is diverting the attention of decision makers. And it causes confusion and spreads fear to the general public. At WHO, we’re not just battling the virus; we’re also battling the trolls and conspiracy theorists that push misinformation and undermine the outbreak response,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The European Union (EU) appreciates China’s epidemic prevention and control measures, European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli said on a recent plenary session of the European Parliament held in Strasbourg, France, during which discussion on the COVID-19 was carried out.
Fighting the epidemic is not a task for China alone, as the epidemic is a challenge facing the whole world. The EU should strengthen cooperation with China and take its global responsibility, Dalli said, adding discrimination against Asians or persons perceived as Asians or any other race or ethnicity is contrary to EU law and the organization will not tolerate any racial discrimination.
Most of the Members of European Parliament (MEP) believe that no country could address the challenge of the epidemic alone.
The EU should promote information sharing among its member states and share information with China in order to eliminate social panic caused by fake information, they said, believing that the recent cases of discrimination in some countries are inhumane and run counter to the basic values of the EU, and every effort should be made to stop discrimination.
Rumors always frighten the public who lack relevant knowledge amid epidemic. Therefore, media and medical experts in many countries are actively spreading knowledge about the epidemic through various channels to break down rumors and help them establish correct understanding.
In The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Chinese Malaysian comedian and actor Ronny Chieng staged a talk show to break down the misinformation and racism surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.
He humorously refuted the claim that drinking bleach, eating garlic, and rinsing nose with saline help prevent the virus, and asked people to stop calling the virus an Asian virus and stereotyping Asian people. The show received a warm response from the audience after it was aired.
Facing the threat of unknown viruses, people often feel anxious and helpless, and the demand for information has risen sharply. This has created a market for various rumors and conspiracy theories, according to Dr. Cheng Huang, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Health at George Washington University.
In addition to objectively and comprehensively presenting evidence and clarifying facts, authorities also need to reveal why such ridiculous remarks are made, he pointed out.
“This is a time for facts, not fear. This is a time for rationality, not rumors. This is a time for solidarity, not stigma,” Tedros has repeatedly stressed.
The Chinese government has always maintained close cooperation with the WHO in the fight against the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, said Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, at a regular media briefing on Feb. 14. The global response to the outbreak should be based on facts rather than speculations, he noted.
At a recent press conference, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned some Western media for using false information to vilify China.
At a time when the Chinese people are facing the unprecedented novel coronavirus pneumonia, writers of many reports were using disinformation and fraudulent facts, and were showing a lack of respect and sympathy, she said.