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 Table of Contents  
LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 30-31

Information pandemic


1 Department of Psychiatry, Level III Hospital, Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
2 Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, Level III Hospital, Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo

Date of Submission05-Jul-2021
Date of Decision15-Nov-2021
Date of Acceptance04-Dec-2021
Date of Web Publication29-Apr-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Harpreet Singh Dhillon
Department of Psychiatry, Level III Hospital, Goma
Democratic Republic of Congo
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/mjhs.mjhs_48_21

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How to cite this article:
Dhillon HS, Sasidharan S. Information pandemic. MRIMS J Health Sci 2022;10:30-1

How to cite this URL:
Dhillon HS, Sasidharan S. Information pandemic. MRIMS J Health Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 May 24];10:30-1. Available from: http://www.mrimsjournal.com/text.asp?2022/10/2/30/344433



The COVID-19 pandemic is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 virus. There have been other pandemics in the past, namely, Black Death (1347) in Europe; smallpox that killed three out of ten people it infected and left the remaining with pockmarked scars; Cholera pandemic which tore through England killing tens of thousands.[1] During the last century, there have been three Influenza pandemics (1918, 1957 and 1968).

This current COVID-19 pandemic is accompanied by a unique “Info-demic.” WHO defines this as an overabundance of information including false or misleading one, in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak. This poses a serious threat to public health as it causes confusion, panic, and distrust in the health authorities. The social distancing, curfews, and lockdowns have only added to the insult by forcing people to spend more time online along with cheap and easy access to share and download information. The Internet is swollen with myths and miraculous cures for the COVID-19. Numerous conspiracy theories proliferate this misinformation, uncertainty and fear. People have already engaged in hoarding toilet papers, hand sanitizers, bottled water, and food supplies as a consequence of irresponsible sharing of unauthenticated info-demic over various social media platforms. Another alarming development has been the disproportionately high volume of published scientific information. Although communication of developments in management is crucial to academic and social discourse, excessive content has overwhelmed medical practitioners, making it difficult to filter evidence and data-driven facts from eminence and opinions.

With the global epidemic of misinformation, we present few recommendations to combat the same.

  1. Avoid linking COVID-19-positive status with any particular race, ethnicity, or nationality
  2. Enthusiastically share positive and hopeful stories of altruistic behavior exhibited by good samaritans to promote an atmosphere of general positivity, collective responsibility, and enhanced community support and participation[2]
  3. Acknowledge, honor and celebrate the work done by “COVID warriors” such as health-care workers, police, conservancy workers, armed forces, food suppliers, and media workers to bolster their morale for the work done by them even at the cost of putting their lives at stake
  4. Ration the time spent on reading COVID-19-related news. Excess news on infections/deaths inevitably causes a sense of helplessness and vulnerability leading to anxiety, fear, and panic. Listening to news only 2–3 times/day at fixed intervals for the fixed duration is recommended by the WHO[3]
  5. Any new/miraculous cure/suspicious news regarding COVID-19 should be first vetted at reliable platforms such as WHO, respective National medical/health agencies before irresponsibly sharing it on social media causing unwarranted relief and disruption in preventive measures, for example, social distancing/cough etiquettes, etc. The WHO via the application WhatsApp transmits relevant, reliable, and practically handy information regarding spread, prevention, protection, travel, etc., which can be obtained by simply sending a “hi” message to + 41 79 475 22 09. Google has provided a dedicated public health resource: https://www.google.com/covid19/. When browsing through search engines on the internet, add site.org/gov/edu to the search words to get the authentic information[4]
  6. People who have been tested positive or are in quarantine should stay connected with loved ones at various virtual platforms, should practice behavioral scheduling by following a more or less fixed schedule of the routine activities including dedicated time for physical activity, relaxation activities, breathing exercises, meditation, moderate aerobic exercise, nutritious diet and 7–8 h of sound sleep should help alleviate anxiety
  7. Physicians need to stay updated from credible sources and should follow clear directions from authentic international/national sources such as the World Health Organization, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. In India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (https://www.mohfw.gov.in), Government of India and Indian Council of Medical Research can be referred to[5]
  8. Physicians and health-care workers can experience symptoms of anxiety, distress, sleep disturbances while dealing with this novel and highly infectious disease and should monitor their physical and mental health. It is worth augmenting the mental health resources and also utilize them in a virtual manner for patient education, evaluation, psychotherapy, and even medication management via a tele-consult (audio/video/text or E-mail) thus not exposing anyone to the risk of infection.[6]


Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
How 5 of History's Worst Pandemics Finally Ended – HISTORY. Available from: https://www.history.com/news/pandemics-end-plague-cholera-black-death-smallpox. [Last accessed on 2020 Jul 29].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Coronavirus Positive News Stories – Good News Updates. Available from: https://www.elle.com/uk/life-and-culture/g31658888/coronavirus-covid-19-good-news/. [Last accessed on 2020 Jul 30].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations during the COVID-19 Outbreak. WHO. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf. [Last accessedon 2020 Jul 30].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Coronavirus – WHO Health Alert Launch. Available from: https://www.whatsapp.com/coronavirus/who. [Last accessed on 2020 Jul 30].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Sasidharan S, Harpreet Singh D, Vijay S, Manalikuzhiyil B. COVID-19: Pan (info) demic. Turk J Anaesthesiol Reanim 2020;48:438-42.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Dhillon HS, Sasidharan S. Telemental health – Is it “virtually” perfect. Arch Med Health Sci 2021;9:175.  Back to cited text no. 6
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