UPDATE Jan. 31st, 2020: You can view my latest daily update here.
At this moment, the World Health Organization’s emergency committee has reconvened to discuss the current situation and to decide whether or not to officially declare the Wuhan coronavirus/2019-nCoV a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Overnight, there’s been another sizable jump in new infections and new deaths in mainland China, with new cases popping up in places like the United Arab Emirates, India, the Philippines, and Finland.
UPDATE 2:14 p.m.: The WHO has indeed declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), citing, among other reasons, a concern that those countries with weaker healthcare systems could be severely impacted by the 2019-nCoV virus (please see the Forbes infographic I shared with you in yesterday’s blogpost).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has posted a couple of videos which you might find useful. First is a quick question-and-answer session about the Wuhan coronavirus with Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove:
Second, did you know that the most effective way to stay healthy and avoid getting the virus is to wash your hands, properly and often? Proper hand hygiene, either with soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitizer, is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading infections to others.
This one-minute video from the WHO demonstrates how to wash your hands in the most effective way to ensure that they are virus-free:
Beware of Fake News About 2019-nCoV
Unfortunately, social media has become a breeding ground for gossip, rumours, hoaxes, conspiracy theories, misinformation, and disinformation about the Wuhan coronavirus. Read the following articles to better understand the different kinds of “fake news” that are currently being disseminated via social media.
Politifact (U.S.): Fact-checking hoaxes and conspiracies about the coronavirus
Global News (Canada): Fact check: A look at common coronavirus misconceptions
The Independent (U.K.): Coronavirus: The truth about the conspiracy theories and fake news on China’s outbreak
BuzzFeed News: Here’s A Running List Of Disinformation Spreading About The Coronavirus (this article is updated as new ones come out)
UPDATE Jan. 31st: The Guardian: Bat soup, dodgy cures and ‘diseasology’: the spread of coronavirus misinformation
Remember to be a discriminating information consumer, and double check and verify any news you hear via social media channels before you accept it as fact, or pass it on to others. (The next section will give you some tips on how to do that.)
Some Tips on How to Spot Fake News
Media Smarts, an education and public awareness program launched by Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy, has a website, BreaktheFake.ca, with an excellent set of one-minute videos which provide some helpful consumer tips which you can use to quickly determine whether the information you are reading online is true or not:
Tip 1: Use Fact-Checking Tools
Tip 2: Find the Source
Tip 3: Verify the Source
Tip 4: Check Other Sources
Another useful resource with some tips, written specifically for the current situation, is:
Huffington Post: Coronavirus Hoaxes: How To Separate Fact From Fiction
Good Sources of Information on 2019-nCoV
Here is my updated list of good, authoritative resources to learn more about the Wuhan coronoavirus (more formally known as 2019-nCoV):
- the United Nations World Health Organization
- the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Personal Health Preparedness information from the U.S. CDC
- Health Canada, including an FAQ and a fact sheet
- Public Health Canada
- Information for the Public from the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England (U.K.)
- Public Health Ontario (Canada)
- University of Chicago Medicine
If you want a quick, up-to-date overview of the current situation, here are two good places to check:
- 2019-nCoV Global Cases (by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University)
- Tracking coronavirus: Map, Data and Timeline by BNO News
Sources of Fast-Breaking News on 2019-nCoV (WARNING: News You Read Here May Not Be 100% Credible!)
PLEASE READ: In addition to the sources listed in the previous section, there are other places you can check, which might have reports (including translated links to local social media in China) that have not yet made the mainstream news media. Please keep in mind that the situation in China is chaotic, and that some of the information you find in the sources I list below might be gossip, rumours, hoaxes, conspiracy theories, misinformation, or disinformation! Please review the information and videos I posted in the How to Spot Fake News section above, before you dive in here.
- The FluTrackers.com discussion forum
- The China_Flu subReddit and wiki with FAQ
- The Intelliwatch Discord server (invite link) is a geopolitical events and crises discussion forum that has two channels devoted to 2019-nCoV/Wuhan coronavirus news and speculation.
- The Corona Virus (2019-nCoV) Discord server (invite link)