One-stop source for Covid-19 updates needed to stop spread of fake info

Julian Tan visits the food trader at Carpenter Street in Kuching.

By Emma Victoria

THE government has been urged to provide an official ‘go-to place’ the public can access for updated information on locations affected by Covid-19 without disclosing confidential information.

Julian Tan, Special Assistant to Sarawak DAP Chairman Chong Chieng Jen, said this is the only way to combat fake news related to Covid-19.

He said an official website to provide such information will gain people’s confidence over time as a trusted source while the government can also control how the information be better positioned and not raise unwarranted speculation.

“Otherwise, vague and ‘half-baked’ information can be equally damaging or worse, it can get twisted and spread, making it difficult for the public to verity facts & advice from trusted sources,” he said in a statement.

“When the information is insufficient or unreliable, and we allow speculations and false information to circulate wildly, businesses will suffer. This is what happened at a tourist hot-spot – Carpenter Street”

“Unverified information regarding an infected Covid-19 patient quickly spread and incited social stigma and discriminatory behaviour against people perceived to have been in contact with the virus, he said, adding  a visit on the ground confirmed the damaging effect of fake news on businesses along Carpenter Street.

He said in Singapore, the government updates information on the locations and times that infectious Covid-19 patients have visited for at least 30mins.

He said this was proven to be effective in curbing the spread of Covid-19 and fake news as the full list of locations and times can be found on the official government website.

Tan said therefore, it is imperative for the government to be ahead of the game continuously.

“The disclosure of information on locations affected via an official channel can empower the public to take precautions and at the same time curb the spread of fake news that harms individuals and businesses.

People can also be confident that the once affected places were now sanitized and safe to go so businesses can revert to normal quickly.

All this information should be available at our fingertips,” he added.