Trusted, accurate, simple, and widely shared risk information saves lives, particularly when it reaches ‘the last mile’ and is used by vulnerable communities. This is the case in all communities, countries and disasters, including during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
However, several weeks into this global crisis, it is also clear that a ‘parallel universe’ of rumour and false information is also active. Its wide reach and ability to influence behaviour could increase health risks and fuel racism and hate. This ‘infodemic’ is a genuine threat to COVID-19 prevention and recovery.
This brief, developed by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Regional Office for Asia-Pacific, aims to highlight the challenges and opportunities for effective risk messaging. Special emphasis is placed on reaching and helping to protect vulnerable communities and deploying tactics to counter misinformation and disinformation which threaten the public health responses and increase societal tensions.
The brief reflects the interventions and feedback from the UNDRR Asia-Pacific webinar on 30 April 2020, titled Risk communication to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19: Countering the ‘Infodemic’. The webinar was co-organized with the World Health Organization.