Battling coronavirus, with innovative messaging | HT Editorial
The use of social media platforms to disseminate best practices is welcomeUpdated: Mar 10, 2020 22:35 IST
While the world watched in disbelief, as a novel strain of coronavirus rapidly spread across continents, two Vietnamese dancers took to TikTok with a groovy, well-choreographed dance, that became, for want of a better word, viral. The video highlighted the importance of hand-washing as a simple, yet important, precaution against the virus. And the messaging worked. People were listening. From panicking about a virus they knew little about, people began to take small, but significant, steps to protect themselves. And it helped that the song was a catchy one.
In the age of social media, with information, both true and false, flooding our timelines every few seconds, this trend of using different platforms to spread information — audio, visual and textual — to the public, shows the power of new technologies if used well. Concerns, symptoms and precautions of the coronavirus that caught the world unprepared were being addressed. Coronavirus has affected over 100,000 people across 95 countries, and killed at least 3,600, since it first appeared in China’s Wuhan region late last year. India has also been affected, with cases reported in different parts of the country.
Since the outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) has found itself in a difficult position, having to quickly respond to, and dismiss, misinformation. But then, WHO also realised the potential of social media in getting out as much accurate information on protection, hygiene, and the impact of the virus, and started its own TikTok account. The world is already battling to contain the epidemic, with no cure in sight. It doesn’t need an “infodemic” to battle alongside it. As active participants of the information age, individuals must stop the spread of conspiracy theories, rumours and general misinformation. Since finding the cure for the virus remains elusive, the least that can be done is to act responsibly in the spread of information. Wash your hands off rumours and clean up.