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NICD: Misinformation on coronavirus spreads stigma, confusion

The virus has now claimed the lives of more than 600 people worldwide, with an average of 20 South Africans being tested for the virus every day, but no one has tested positive so far.

FILE: Health officers screen arriving passengers from China with thermal scanners at Changi International airport in Singapore on 22 January 2020 as authorities increased measure against coronavirus. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Thursday said it remained vigilant as it dealt with suspected cases of the coronavirus and it had called on the public to be cautious in the face of misinformation.

The virus has now claimed the lives of more than 600 people worldwide, with an average of 20 South Africans being tested for the virus every day, but no one has tested positive so far.

Factfile on the coronavirus family, which circulate in animals and can be transmitted to humans. A new strain of this virus has been identified in Wuhan, China. Picture: AFP

The dashboard is intended to provide the public with an understanding of the coronavirus outbreak situation as it unfolds, with transparent data sources. Picture: John Hopkins CSSE

The NICD’s Cheryl Cohen said the institution remained on high alert.

“A good source of information is our website. The World Health Organisation has an excellent website for news, control and prevention. So, stick to reputable sources for your information because there is a lot of misinformation out there that spreads stigma and it confuses people.”

The NICD said there was no need for South Africans at this stage to wear surgical masks on a routine basis.

Several countries had reported a shortage as the world puts precautionary measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

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