Unicef disowns erroneous advisory on coronavirus
MANILA, Philippines — A top official of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) rejected an erroneous online message which issued purported advisories on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a statement, Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Unicef Deputy Executive Director for Partnerships, said it was “dangerous” and “wrong” to share “inaccurate information and attempting to imbue it with authority by misappropriating the names of those in a position of trust.”
“A recent erroneous online message circulating in several languages around the world and purporting to be a UNICEF communication appears to indicate, among other things, that avoiding ice cream and other cold foods can help prevent the onset of the disease. This is, of course, wholly untrue,” Gornitzka said.
The said advisories were released through chat applications, and in a tweet on Sunday, Unicef Philippines said the organization does not issue advisories on online messaging platforms.
⚠️ Misinformation on COVID-19
UNICEF does not issue coronavirus advisories on chat apps. We post updates and safety tips only on official verified UNICEF accounts and on our official website: https://t.co/sYMowbWVvP #COVID19 #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/EuA7YWwW5U
— UNICEF Philippines (@unicefphils) March 7, 2020
“While many people are sharing information about the virus and how to protect against it, only some of that information is useful or reliable. Misinformation during times of a health crisis can spread paranoia, fear, and stigmatization. It can also result in people being left unprotected or more vulnerable to the virus,” Gornitzka stressed.
The Unicef official then urged the creators of such falsehoods to stop from sharing inaccurate information.
She then urged the public to “seek accurate information about how to keep yourself and your family safe from verified sources, such as UNICEF or WHO (World Health Organization), government health officials and trusted healthcare professionals.”
She also advised the public to “refrain from sharing information from untrustworthy or unverified sources.”
“It can be difficult in today’s information-rich society to know exactly where to go for knowledge about how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. But it is critical that we remain as diligent about the accuracy of the information we share as we are about every other precaution we take to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe,” she said.
“UNICEF is actively taking steps to provide accurate information about the virus by working with the World Health Organization, government authorities and with online partners like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok to make sure that accurate information and advice is available, as well as taking steps to inform the public when inaccurate information emerges,” she added.
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