Beware fake news on coronavirus, public warned

accreditation

Media company Primedia has warned members of the public not to allow themselves to be swayed by, or become, unwitting distributors of misinformation regarding coronavirus outbreak which has rocked countries and markets around the world.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday evening that South Africa would go under a nationwide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday 26 March.

The Primedia statement made reference to Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who last week set out the regulations in terms of Section 27 (2) of the Disaster Management Act, making the spreading of misinformation on Covid-19 a punishable offence.

Primedia Group chief business officer Geraint Crwys-Williams said in the statement released by the company that it was crucial to focus on debunking the myths and misinformation in circulation.

"Now, more than ever, the role of accountable and credible media has come to the fore. Government officials and healthcare professionals are using trusted broadcast media and digital platforms of established, verified, media outlets to circulate correct information on Covid-19," said Crwys-Williams.

Crwys-Williams urged all South Africans to be mindful of the source of information that they receive as misinformation does not just cause unnecessary panic, but also puts citizens at risk. 

"We have a duty of care to our employees, our communities and our audience to provide accurate, informative communication to ensure we play our part in reducing, not just the spread of the virus, but of unnecessary panic too," Crwys-Williams said.

The statement made reference to a piece of misinformation last week which claimed that government advised South Africans to stay indoors as planes sprayed chemicals across the country. This false message was shared 8 000 times on Facebook, the statement said.

* Access News24's special hub on coronavirus here.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
16.50
-1.3%
Rand - Pound
19.96
-1.0%
Rand - Euro
17.21
-1.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.24
-1.0%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-1.0%
Gold
1,810.71
0.0%
Silver
19.89
0.0%
Palladium
1,964.46
0.0%
Platinum
892.00
0.0%
Brent Crude
111.63
+2.3%
Top 40
59,640
-0.8%
All Share
65,662
-0.9%
Resource 10
61,245
-4.1%
Industrial 25
80,264
+1.1%
Financial 15
14,564
-0.8%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot