Wuhan’s sister city mayor calls for battling novel coronavirus “infodemic”

by Li Huizi

 

New Zealand’s Christchurch City Mayor Lianne Dalziel has called for battling against misinformation, and offering encouragement and support for “anxious and fearful” members of the community due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Dalziel said she recently wrote to the Mayor of Wuhan and “offered our condolences on the loss of life and an expression of solidarity as a sister city.”

She voiced hope that the disease would be able to be contained quickly.

“I also wrote to the provincial leadership of Gansu with which we have a very long-established relationship. They have not been as affected as Wuhan; however, it was important to express our support for them at this difficult time,” Dalziel told New Zealand Messenger.

Christchurch City cemented a sister city tie in 2006 with China’s Wuhan City, which currently is fighting the outbreak of the pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus.

Dalziel highlighted the “infodemic” in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak, saying it has been “frightening” to watch its impact.

The “infodemic” refers to an excessive amount of information concerning a problem such that the solution is made more difficult.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has spoken out about how all the myths, rumors and conspiracy theories make it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when it’s needed, she noted.

The fact is that although the likelihood of an imported case in New Zealand remains high, the likelihood of a widespread outbreak remains low, she said.

“Sadly, factual posts cannot keep up with the sheer volume of misinformation. The impact on our own residents and citizens who have an Asian background is horrifying,” Dalziel said.

“Some have told me they have stayed at home rather than to be told to ‘go home’ by someone who means not their home, but another country,” the mayor said.

“It is a time for kindness and understanding,” she added.

 

 

LIANNE DALZIEL: BATTLING AGAINST MISINFORMATION

by Lianne Dalziel

 

It has been frightening to watch the impact of what has been described as an “infodemic” in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has spoken out about how all the myths, rumours and conspiracy theories make it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when it’s needed.

They are working with their partners 24-hours a day to identify the most prevalent rumours that can potentially harm the public health, such as false prevention measures or cures. These myths are then refuted with evidence-based information. Fortunately, we know we can reply on the Ministry of Health website for up-to-the-minute advice.

The fact is that although the likelihood of an imported case in New Zealand remains high, the likelihood of a widespread outbreak remains low.

Sadly, factual posts cannot keep up with the sheer volume of misinformation. The impact on our own residents and citizens who have an Asian background is horrifying. Some have told me they have stayed at home rather than to be told go ‘go home’ by someone who means not their home, but another country.

Some people think this behaviour is ok. It’s not.

Just think of the time of the year, with hundreds of thousands of people travelling home as they traditionally do for Chinese New Year.

Just think of those who have settled here and have family in China, especially Wuhan. Think how they feeling.

This is a time for us to offer encouragement and support for these members of our community, many of whom will be feeling anxious and fearful. It is a time for kindness and understanding. 

 

Originally published on STAR, Feb. 13