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The Fact-Checker: July 13, 2020

What is “truth” in a world of ever-changing information?

If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it is that we are ultimately our own arbiters of truth. Smartphones and internet connectivity which have co-existed in recent years and which seem to get even more advanced have opened a whole new world to Nigerians. A world where you can choose to visibly tell your stories (and the stories of others) or hide behind an anonymous user identifier to tell untrue tales. In this world, we are all equals and expertise is only momentary as new information arises.

In late January/early February when Nigerians were beginning to cast a glance at the disease that was killing thousands of people in faraway countries, the global consensus was to refrain from wearing masks, except you’re infected. In fact, health authorities explained why it is very unnecessary and counter-effective to do so.

 “There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any particular benefit. In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite”, said Dr Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s epidemics chief. Also noteworthy was the risk of consistently touching one’s face while taking it off or putting it on.

It was also important to discourage people from buying masks as health workers were facing a shortage. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said in a tweet – “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

The WHO and U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also said, at that time, that only people with COVID-19 symptoms and those caring for them should wear masks.

By April/May, it became clear that masks were essential to further contain the virus, whether sick or healthy. In a visual demonstration, the WHO now says that masks should be worn by people who have no covid-19 symptoms where covid-19 is widespread, the physical distancing of at least one meter cannot be achieved or busy settings such as public transport and open markets.

But that new revelation opened the door to a massive mask-making empire. As more people started producing and selling DIY masks, health authorities such as WHO experts had to inform people about the kinds of masks that were effective, with this guideline changing constantly the proper way to wear a facemask; while fact-checkers such as Dubawa debunked claims about government regulations on the mandatory use of masks, the existence of infected masks shipped to Nigeria from China, and the exemption of children under 6 years from using masks.

What’s our point? No one was prepared for the economic, political, social, or health effects of the pandemic; not even public health experts. And so, it is important to question every new information. Understand the ‘why’ before trusting the message regardless of the source! 

Coronavirus Q & A

Can Coronavirus spread in the pool?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread through the use of pools and hot tubs.”

There is no evidence that  the virus can remain viable in a pool, especially after “Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine).” While that has been said, Foxnews has indicated that, while it seems unlikely to contract the virus from pool water, the people visiting the pools pose more risk than the pool itself. 

Can you get read of COVID-19 with hand dryers? 

Although the hand dryer heats up the hands to make them dry, that does not make it effective against coronavirus. 

As the World Health Organization has stated, “Hand dryers are not effective in killing the COVID-19 virus. To protect yourself, frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.

What is the update on vaccines?

At the moment, according to a Premium Times report, there are nearly 150 COVID-19 vaccine candidates around the world and currently, 19 are in clinical trials.

Tip of the week 

The Fact-Checker: July 13, 2020

#FakeNews Alert 

So, after all, social distancing, Quarantine and lockdowns were not really necessary?  – SOURCE: Instagram Page 

Credible health authorities like WHO (World Health Organization) and the NCDC – Nigerian Centre for Disease Control should be your go-to credible platform when it comes to sourcing adequate information regarding the pandemic. Other sources, especially random social media pages, should be treated with a strong dose of scepticism.

Hushpuppi Hires Michael Jackson’s Lawyer to Defend HimSOURCE: Online Blog (FirstWeeklyMagazine)

Controversial topics of general interest, such as this, tend to contribute to the prevalence of information disorder and it takes a media literate mind to sort fact from fiction. Therefore, the media space will receive a variety of information, usually presented in the form of memes, satire, opinion or advice. So, be watchful, identify the category your information fits in and do the needful – verify – before you share.

Muhammed Umar Takes over at EFCC – SOURCE: Online Blog (Global EXcellence)

Just like the previous post, this is another claim birthed from a controversial topic. Do not hesitate to detach emotions and verify before passing it on.

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