Word War Z: Pico warns of deadly “infodemic” spreading in city

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BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – An “infodemic” is going on amidst the crisis, and that is even harder to control.

Police Lt. Col. Ariel Pico, Bacolod City Police Office spokesperson warned against the spread fake news and unverified information or what he called as “infodemic”, saying that this could even worsen the current health crisis brought by COVID-19.

Police Lt. Col. Ariel Pico during an interview at the Bacolod-Talisay checkup points. | Photo by Banjo C. Hinolan
Police Lt. Col. Ariel Pico during an interview at the Bacolod-Talisay checkup points. | Photo by Banjo C. Hinolan

Recently, there has been a spate of fake news or unverified information going around, the latest of which is the breakdown of numbers of PUIs in the barangay level.

Pico said the police has already activated its cybercrime group, which will track, and trace sources of fake news and false information. Charges will also be filed against those proven to have spread or made these.

The police spokesperson also urged the public to cooperate now that the country is in the thick of battling a pandemic.

“This, and I say this repeatedly, we are in the middle of a national health emergency crisis. This is not the time for finger-pointing, or for the blame game,” Pico said.

It is urgent, he said, that people help government by cooperating.

“Don’t wait for the curfew before going home,” he said, adding, “There’s a reason why masses are stopped, whey classes were suspended and students were asked to go home.”

This is not the time to go to the malls, or resorts, or to party, he said.

“The less movement there is, the less the chance of spreading the virus,” he said.

All of us, he said, are potential victims of the virus.

“Please stay at home. Sleep: it will improve your immune system. Do not compromise people’s safety by going out. We, [and] the media, are risking our safety… please do your share,” he further said.

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