World • 10 February, 2020

Coronavirus: WHO chief warns against 'trolls and conspiracy theories'

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that "trolls and conspiracy theories" are undermining their response to the new coronavirus, BBC reports.

WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that misinformation was "making the work of our heroic workers even harder".

"I would also like to speak briefly about the importance of facts, not fear," Dr Tedros said. "People must have access to accurate information to protect themselves and others."

He said misinformation around the new strain, 2019-nCoV, "causes confusion and spreads fear to the general public".

"At the WHO we're not just battling the virus, we're also battling the trolls and conspiracy theories that undermine our response," he added.

In that article, published by The Guardian's opinion section, epidemiologist Adam Kucharski argues that the best way to combat online falsehoods around the virus is to "treat them like a real-life virus".

A number of false theories have been spread globally about the virus in recent weeks.

Dr Tedros said that the virus is still concentrated in Hubei, and that over the last four days there appeared to have been a slight stabilisation in the number of cases.

However, he said it was still too early to say whether or not the virus has plateaued, as epidemics can often slow down before accelerating again.

But he added that the slow-down was "an opportunity" for them to work to contain the virus.

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