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UN calls for global action against spread of COVID-19 misinformation

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2020)

The United Nations and its partners have called on countries to take urgent action to address what they describe as the “infodemic” around the COVID-19 pandemic and put in place national action plans to promote science-based health information.

In a statement issued by the UN on Thursday, the organization said the pandemic is the first in history in which technology and social media are being used to both inform people and keep them connected but also to undermine global response to the crisis and jeopardize measures to contain the disease.

“WHO and partners are calling on all countries to put in place national action plans to promote science-based health information and to combat misinformation.

They also called on the media, tech companies, civil society, researchers and people everywhere to keep the infodemic from spreading”.

“Misinformation costs lives. Without the appropriate trust and correct information, diagnostic tests go unused, immunization campaigns (or campaigns to promote effective vaccines) will not meet their targets, and the virus will continue to thrive”, the partners said in a statement. 

“We call on Member States to develop and implement action plans to manage the infodemic by promoting the timely dissemination of accurate information, based on science and evidence, to all communities, and in particular high-risk groups; and preventing the spread, and combating, mis- and disinformation while respecting freedom of expression.” 

Authorities also were urged to empower communities to develop solutions and resilience against the infodemic. 

Stakeholders such as the media and social media platforms were called on to collaborate with the UN system, and each other, “to further strengthen their actions to disseminate accurate information and prevent the spread of mis- and disinformation.” 

 

COVID-19

Global coronavirus caseload crosses the 40 million mark

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2020)

The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide passed the 40 million mark on Monday, according to a Reuters tally. 

Reuters reported that this comes as the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere appears to have fuelled a resurgence in the spread of the disease. 

Experts however believe the true numbers of both cases and deaths are likely much higher, given deficiencies in testing and potential under-reporting by some countries.

The Reuters data shows the pace of the pandemic continues to increase as it took just 32 days to go from 30 million global cases to 40 million, compared with the 38 days it took to get from 20 to 30 million, the 44 days between 10 and 20 million, and the three months it took to reach 10 million cases from when the first cases were reported in Wuhan, China, in early January.

Reuters also reported that record one-day increases in new infections were seen at the end of last week, with global coronavirus cases rising above 400,000 for the first time.

The United States, India, and Brazil remain the worst affected countries in the world. 

 

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US records 7.7m COVID-19 cases while India hits 7m mark

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(Last Updated On: October 12, 2020)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday reported 7,694,865 cases of COVID-19, an increase of 53,363 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 577 to 213,614, Reuters reported.

The CDC reported its tally of cases of the virus as of 4 pm ET on Saturday versus its previous report a day earlier. 

The US is still the country with the highest number of infections but India is fast closing the gap after it passed the seven million caseload mark on Saturday. 

India’s health ministry reported 74,383 new cases Saturday morning, over a 24 hour period, taking the total to 7,053,806. 

India now ranks the second country to register seven million cases and is approaching figures close to that of the US.

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India registers 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, almost 6.5 million infections

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(Last Updated On: October 3, 2020)

India’s death toll from COVID-19 passed the 100, 000 mark on Saturday, becoming only the third country in the world to reach that tally, after the United States and Brazil. 

Total deaths reported by the health ministry on Saturday was 100,842, while the number of infections climbed by 79,476 over the past 24 hours to 6.47 million. 

While the country continues to reopen, after a tough lockdown in March, experts have warned the number of cases could spike during the upcoming holiday season, including the Hindu festival of Diwali next month. 

“We have seen some recent slowdown of the virus curve but this may be a local peak, there may be another coming,” Reuters quoted Bhramar Mukherjee, a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Michigan, as saying.

She said data showed a little over seven percent of the population of 1.3 billion had been exposed to the virus, meaning India was still far from any sort of herd immunity.

The number of cases could rise to 12.2 million by the end of the year but the rate of spread would depend on how effective measures such as social distancing were, she said.

“So it will continue like a slow burning coil, that is my hope, and we have to play the long game to stop it from being a wildfire.”

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