‘The World Health Organization is working with Google to ensure that people get facts from WHO first when they search for information about the new virus that recently emerged in China.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the opening of WHO’s executive board meeting on Monday that social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Tencent and TikTok have also taken steps to limit the spread of misinformation and rumors about the virus and outbreak that first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December and has now spread to 23 other countries.
‘To that end, we have worked with Google to make sure people searching for information about coronavirus see WHO information at the top of their search results,’ he said.
WHO officials like Tedros have heaped praise on China’s response repeatedly in public, echoed Beijing’s calls to avoid panic, sought to reinforce weaker health systems and dispel rumors that may have prompted xenophobic invective against Chinese citizens and even other Asians.
Ambassador Li Song, deputy permanent representative for China in Geneva, lashed out at flight cancellations, visa denials and refusals by some countries to admit citizens of Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located, saying those moves went against WHO recommendations.
Li noted how Chinese President Xi Jinping, meeting with Tedros last week in Beijing, had said the coronavirus epidemic ‘is a devil – we cannot let the devil hide.’