Giving Compass' Take:

• Ruth Reader at Fast Company outlines the steady flow of confusion and misinformation surrounding the development and severity of the coronavirus. 

• What is the danger of spreading false information about coronavirus? Who does it affect most directly? How can we encourage a factual narrative from more credible sources? 

• Become more informed about the coronavirus and its effects.

The flood of news on the coronavirus is creating a confusing landscape for the watching public.

State information, news reports, and conspiracy theories have proliferated at such a rate that even public health researchers aren’t sure about what is true and what is not.

Conspiracy theorists are publishing content questioning the origin of the virus, how far it’s spread, and how many people it has killed. The Physicians for Civil Defense, a nonprofit organization run by vaccination skeptic Dr. Jane Orient, is also chiming in with press releases that suggest the virus may have been illegal biological warfare.

The WHO has been careful about its messaging despite its recent decision to declare a global health crisis. During a press conference, Dr. Tebros specifically and repeatedly said that the WHO does not support a halt on travel and trade in relation to the virus. However, much of this wave of misinformation about the coronavirus seems aimed at inciting a fear of China and pushing for closed borders.

Online, some people are taking to Twitter to pressure governments to close their borders to travelers; others are starting petitions to prevent Chinese travelers from coming to the U.S. In other countries, hashtags and headlines with xenophobic overtones are trending, according to the New York Times.

Stopping the spread of misinformation may be the most crucial task ahead. Because it is still early days, it is difficult to know what shape the virus will take over the next few months, but much has been done already to contain it. The WHO is worried that weaker health systems will not be able to handle the outbreak, should it reach them. If that happens, it will require global cooperation, not further isolation.

Read the full article about deciphering fact from fiction regarding the coronavirus by Ruth Reader at Fast Company.