Last month, TikTok was criticised after a number of hoax videos appeared on the platform, spreading false information about the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. Now, in an attempt to fight misinformation, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has joined the app, offering users genuine advice about the crisis.
“We are joining @tiktok to provide you with reliable and timely public health advice,” WHO’s inaugural video said. “Our first post: How to protect yourself from #coronavirus?”
In a video featuring WHO’s technical lead of infection prevention and control, Benedetta Allegranzi discusses measures that can be adopted to “protect yourself and others from getting the new coronavirus: COVID19”. She advises users to frequently wash their hands, cough and sneeze into their elbows or use a tissue and discard it immediately, avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and a cough, and visit a doctor if you show any flu-like symptoms. A follow-up video offers advice about using masks to protect against the virus.
Since the coronavirus outbreak in December last year, there have been over 90,000 cases worldwide and around 3,000 deaths. The majority of cases are in China, though South Korea, Italy, and Iran have recently seen spikes in the number of diagnoses. The Chinese city of Wuhan – the centre of the outbreak – has been on lockdown since January, while events and establishments have been shut down all over the world, and coronavirus-related racism has risen in the UK.
Just today, the UK government has warned that up to a fifth of workers may be off sick during the peak of the country’s epidemic. Boris Johnson said yesterday (March 2) that there could be a “very significant expansion” in the number of cases, with measures including school closures, reducing social gatherings, and working from home planned to reduce the spread of the virus.
As well as taking WHO’s TikTok advice, read our guide on how to not freak out about coronavirus here.