Editor's Comment

Stop peddling lies!

IT IS devastating enough that the coronavirus or Covid-19, the deadly disease which broke out in December last year in Wuhan, China, has continued to defy medical wizards and is spreading like a bush fire across the globe.
Indisputably, the world has been shaken by this health crisis which has continued to claim lives.
As of yesterday, the outbreak has affected more than 89,000 people globally, with a total death toll in excess of 3,000. In China, of the 80,151 confirmed cases, over 44,000 people have recovered, and 2,943, representing 3.6 percent, have died. Over 125 deaths have occurred outside of China.
The coronavirus has spread to more than 60 other countries. The worst affected include South Korea, with nearly 5,000 cases, and Iran, with over 1,500 cases.
In the UK there have been 40 recorded cases and no fatalities so far.
Africa has not been spared, with three countries having recorded a case each. These are Nigeria, Senegal and Egypt.
While we do not dispute the probability of the coronavirus spreading to any country, including Zambia, we strongly believe it is irresponsible for anyone to spread rumours on such a serious matter.
We are deeply concerned that some individuals without verifying information with relevant authorities are taking to different media platforms to spread falsehoods.
Rumours making rounds on social media and unfortunately in some traditional media outlets, too, is that Zambia has recorded three cases of coronavirus, a claim that relevant health authorities have dispelled.
Health authorities have assured the country that no cases have been recorded so far.
Even then, Government is not sitting idly by, but working to ensure preparedness in case of an outbreak.
The Ministry of Health has trained health personnel on how to handle the coronavirus in an event that it broke out.
All entry points into the country are equipped with screening devices. Everyone entering the country is screened for possible infection of the virus.
Government has further secured a place in Chilanga which would be used as a quarantine centre for anyone who has the virus.
If there were any cases in the country, health authorities are best placed to give verified information on the situation.
It is saddening that some individuals are quick to believe lies peddled on social media instead of getting verified information from relevant authorities.
This is not the first time that such unsubstantiated reports are making rounds.
When the virus just broke out, unscrupulous individuals took to the media to spread lies that Zambia had recorded a case, and this was disputed by health authorities.
It is saddening how some citizens can be so irresponsible to peddle such costly falsehoods.
Those behind such rumours should understand that their actions have potential to send the whole country into panic mode.
When such lies are told, some people believe them as gospel truth. Not everyone would verify information they receive through various media platforms.
These falsehoods, therefore, have potential to create unnecessary tension among the people.
Actually, rumours on coronavirus, if taken as gospel truth, have potential to instil fear in citizens and consequently paralyse social and economic life.
If such rumours are taken to be true, the likelihood is that people would abandon their businesses and social activities in order to safeguard their lives.
People would be too scared to report for work or trade freely in the market places, thereby losing out on productivity and income.
While it is advised that people take precautions against this deadly disease, fanning lies about its presence in the country is not only irresponsible but criminal because of the likely consequences.
If the coronavirus ever broke out in Zambia, it would not be hidden. It would be known to all.
For now, it is more prudent for people to preoccupy themselves with sharing information on how they can prevent this deadly disease instead of wasting time and energy spreading lies.

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