By Genalyn Kabiling
In a bid to combat the spread of unverified and alarmist information, the government is set to release hourly public service reminders on state media about the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) and how to avoid it.
The latest campaign was ordered by President Duterte to promote accurate and timely information about the latest health concern, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said.
“In order to further strengthen the dissemination of vetted information and updates to the public, along with directives and procedures put into place by frontline agencies concerned with the 2019-nCoV ARD such as the DOH (Department of Health), DOTr (Department of Transportation), Bureau of Immigration, DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), and DepEd (Department of Education), the President has ordered hourly public service reminders of the rules to avoid nCoV, to be made through all government-owned broadcast media outlets — PTV, PBS, and IBC,” Andanar said in a statement Wednesday.
“These reminders will be complemented by dissemination of infographic materials and quick news updates that will be produced by our attached news agency, the Philippine News Agency, our public information arm, the Philippine Information Agency, and our communication services arm, the Bureau of Communications Services.”
Andanar said they also intend to continue its digital content in line with its Laging Handa initiative. The public can also get updates from the Department of Health’s official webpage dedicated to nCoV at [www.doh.gov.ph/2019-nCov/Updates].
“Trust that the government, through PCOO and its attached agencies, will immediately communicate to the public developments regarding the nCoV situation and continue to provide reminders on precautionary measures needed to prevent the spread of the disease,” he said.
In the Cabinet meeting last Tuesday, the President directed the PCOO “to spend more time in informing the public of the health advisories and guidelines,” according to his spokesperson Salvador Panelo. The PCOO campaign must include an assurance that people will be safe from the virus if they observe such health precautions, he added.
Don’t spread unverified information
While promising to step up the information drive on the coronavirus, Andanar appealed to the public “not to spread unverified and alarmist information about the virus.”
He said unverified information could impede the genuine efforts of the government and health experts in addressing the virus threat. “More importantly, it will cause unnecessary panic and overreaction among the masses.”
Andanar also urged the public anew to stay calm yet vigilant and cooperate with authorities on the preventive measures against the respiratory illness.
“Through the combined efforts of the government and the compliance of the public with the set procedures, we can go a long way in preventing the spread of the virus. The government is doing all it can, and we ask that the public cooperates in turn.”