UN chief warns of 'epidemic of misinformation' about coronavirus

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned on Tuesday about a "dangerous epidemic of misinformation" surrounding the global coronavirus outbreak.

"This is a time for science and solidarity," Guterres said in a statement and video message.

"As the world fights the deadly COVID-19 pandemic -– the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War –- we are also seeing another epidemic, a dangerous epidemic of misinformation," he said.

Guterres did not cite any specific countries or media outlets but he said that "harmful health advice and snake-oil solutions are proliferating.

"Falsehoods are filling the airwaves," he said. "Wild conspiracy theories are infecting the Internet.

"Hatred is going viral, stigmatizing and vilifying people and groups," Guterres said.

"The world must unite against this disease, too," he said.

"The vaccine is trust," Guterres said, calling on people to "trust in science."

The UN secretary general praised journalists and fact-checkers and called on social media companies to do "more to root out hate and harmful assertions about COVID-19."

"Together, let's reject the lies and nonsense out there," he said, and "build a healthier, more equitable, just and resilient world."