COVID-19 Pandemic: Questioning Conspiracy Theories, Beliefs or Claims that Have Potential Negative Impact on Public Health Interventions and Proposal for Integrated Communication and Information Dissemination Strategies (ICIDS)
The COVID-19 outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 spread across the world causing a pandemic that infected and killed thousands of people globally. Countries made frantic efforts to put in place measures to curb the spread of the viral infections. The measures included social distancing, regular washing of hands with soap, applying sanitizers to hands and surfaces, use of personal protective equipment, screening, testing, isolation of suspected cases, quarantine of cases, lockdowns, treatment of cases and controlled burial of deceased cases.
Almost all affected countries experienced four main hindrances to their efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic; (i) challenges in implementing preventative measures effectively, (ii) health care delivery systems that could not cope with the pandemic, (iii) limited resources, and (iv) negative socio-economic impact caused by the pandemic. One of the challenges that hindered efforts to prevent the spread of the pandemic or to manage it are various conspiracy theories, beliefs, and or unproven claims, some of which are contradictory, that were circulated across the world.
2This article gives an overview of the covid-19 pandemic, some conspiracy theories, beliefs and claims that were circulated as unofficial information, and questions the unofficial information. The article ends with an outline of some potential negative impact of conspiracy theories, beliefs and claims on public health interventions aimed at controlling the pandemic. In order to counter disinformation and misinformation, the article recommends the establishment of well-coordinated Integrated Communication and Information Dissemination Strategies (ICIDS) at global, continental, regional and national levels.