How quickly rumours can spread. Many Powell River area residents use Facebook; this isn’t news to anyone. They love their groups, chats, events, photos, and for news to come quickly and conveniently, and the social media giant provides that.
The problem lies with misinformation that can spread faster than facts, or viruses.
A couple of posts earlier this week led to comments of question and concern regarding an alleged “official” case of COVID-19 in Powell River. They led readers to believe a woman was being quarantined at Powell River General Hospital and went on to give helpful tips on how to prevent the spread of virus, including frequent handwashing. While part of the post was true, handwashing is best practice, the official case update was not.
Misinformation causes hysteria, panic, and creates a scenario where people think they need to stock up on food and supplies and not leave their homes. Masks are flying off shelves, yet we rarely see anyone wearing them. The last thing we want is a shortage for our health care professionals who really need them.
Anyone who is not ill should not be wearing a mask; they will not prevent them from contracting a virus. For those who are ill, thanks for wearing a mask when out in public; that’s what they are for, preventing an infected person from possibly spreading a virus.
COVID-19 is scary. Can it be transmitted from someone not showing symptoms? Can someone contract it by touching a surface? Can it be transmitted by a pet?
Many questions have yet to be answered. However, some practises can give everyone the best chance to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19 or any other cold or flu bug. The aforementioned handwashing with soap and water, the more often the better, is the best place to start. Everyone should: avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth as much as possible; avoid close contact with people who are sick; cough or sneeze into sleeves, not hands; and stay home when sick to avoid spreading the illness.
Now, if only handwashing could stop the spread of misinformation.
As of March 5, the latest case of COVID-19 was reported in Vancouver. For answers to frequently asked questions or to keep up-to-date, go to canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html.
In the meantime, tune into press conferences held regularly by provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and minister of health Adrian Dix. That’s where any official announcement about new cases are going to come from first, not via Facebook.