Faizel Patel – 02/07/2020
A journalist and member of the Ethekwini Security and Active Citizens Coalition says the spreading of fake and unverified news about the COVID-19 virus is becoming a disease and pandemic itself.
Mohammad Ismail was speaking to Radio Islam on Thursday about reports over the weekend, which claimed that a building in KwaZulu-Natal had been quarantined by the Health Department after a number of people were infected with the Coronavirus.
Ismail says this was fake news being circulated on social media platforms including WhatsApp.
He says misinformation is eroding the moral fiber of communities.
“Fake news and hoaxes is spreading worse than the COVID-19 pandemic. For any little thing that happens, some mischief maker goes out there and writes something on WhatsApp or Facebook and sends it through and everybody tends to believe this and they now post and repost without proper verification.”
Ismail says people who are not journalists may not know how to gather, verify or disseminate information.
He has urged communities to tune into their local radio stations to get the latest verified news from trusted journalists and sources.
“Radio stations like Radio Islam and other broadcasters at community level brings this message loud and clear to the community who would not otherwise get this information. So, stay tuned to your local radio stations. If the radio station and journalists like yourself are informed enough to bring this news to the fore, we are going to win the battle in many ways that we cannot even imagine.”
Ismail says people who have contracted the COVID-19 and can cope with the mechanisms should disclose their status to avoid the spreading of misinformation adding that while there is stigmatization associated with the virus, it is nothing to be ashamed of.
Listen to the interview with Muhammad Ismail