The World Health Organization joined TikTok to post 'reliable' advice about the coronavirus amid a stream of memes and misinformation
The World Health Organization joined TikTok on Friday, and is using the social video platform to share information about the coronavirus. It has so far posted two videos: one offering COVID-19 prevention tips and another clarifying the use of face masks. The director-general of the WHO said at a conference Sunday that people should prepare for a "pandemic" but that reason and facts should outweigh fear.
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The World Health Organization (WHO) joined TikTok in an apparent effort to spread accurate information about COVID-19 to the app's userbase, as fears of a possible global pandemic rise. "We are joining @tiktok to provide you with reliable and timely public health advice! Our first post: How to protect yourself from the #coronavirus," the description on the account's first video said. As the MIT Technology Review reported in February, WHO has partnered with social-media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now TikTok in order to distribute accurate information amid misinformation and memes. For example, Insider previously reported the existence of a viral video posted to TikTok and Instagram that showed two teens in hazmat suits spill Kool-Aid on a New York City subway, pretending the liquid contained the virus. Others have pretended to have COVID-19 in an effort to gain attention. At least two-dozen police agencies had posted to Facebook, pretending COVID-19 was linked to meth so that people might be tricked into bringing their illegal drugs into police stations to be tested. In the first of two videos posted to the WHO TikTok page, Benedetta Allegranzi, the technical lead of infection prevention and control, explained different ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Her recommendations echoed previous advice issued by other health organizations, like the US Centers for Disease Control.
@who We are joining @tiktok to provide you with reliable and timely public health advice! Our first post: How to protect yourself from ##coronavirus ? ♬ original sound - who
Allegranzi recommended people frequently clean hands using an alcohol-based product or soap and water, use an elbow or tissue to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, avoid individuals with symptoms of the virus, and share travel information with medical professionals if a person is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. The WHO also used TikTok to share information and guidance about who should wear face masks Face masks have become a point of contention as demand for them in the US increases as fears of the virus spreading domestically, though officials, like Vice President Mike Pence, have argued they are not effective in preventing the spread of the virus and are not necessary. The US surgeon general on Saturday went as far as to say people should not buy face masks, as they could create a shortage for people and healthcare professionals who need them. Still, Pence said at a press conference Saturday that the US was working with 3M and other manufacturers to produce 35 million new masks each month. In its second video posted Saturday, WHO detailed when and why people should wear face masks.
@who When & how should masks be worn in order to protect against the new ##coronavirus ? ♬ original sound - who
"If you do not have respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, or runny nose, you do not need to wear a medical mask. Masks should only be used by health workers, caretakers, and by people with those symptoms," text in the video said. Toward the end of the video, April Baller, who works with the WHO Health Emergency Program, provided instructions on how to put on a face mask. She advised people to wash their hands before applying a mask, inspect the mask for tears or holes, and demonstrated how to correctly orient and apply a mask. She added masks should only be used one time before being immediately discarded. WHO's TikTok account has developed a large following in a short time, not uncommon on the viralvideo platform. In just a few days, it has earned more than 121,400 followers. The first video posted earned over 250,000 likes and the second video nearly 600,000. Days after the WHO's TikTok account appeared, the director-general of the WHO on Sunday advised that there is reason to prepare for a "pandemic," but also encouraged people to apply a facts-over-fear mentality amid global market panic not seen since the 2008 recession. While actual demographic information for the Chinese-owned app is scarce, TikTok is widely believed to be one of the most popular social-media platforms for Generation Z, meaning TikTok could be an effective way for health organizations like WHO to get information out to younger people who often get news directly from social media. The WHO did not immediately return Business Insider's request for comment. Read more: WHO director says there's a need to prepare for a 'pandemic' but global markets should 'calm down' as coronavirus wreaks havoc on the global economy We don't have any good treatments for the novel coronavirus right now, but scientists are racing to change that Trump's efforts to muzzle health officials and downplay coronavirus mirror the tactics of an authoritarian regime, experts say Photos of deserted, nearly empty airports around the world show how coronavirus has decimated air travelJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Watch Google reveal the new Nest Mini, which is an updated Home Mini
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If people with no symptoms are spreading the coronavirus, as some studies suggest, it may be...If people with no symptoms are spreading the coronavirus, as some studies suggest, it may be time to give face masks the kind of advertising and promotion that support condoms as lifesavers.
The CDC is recommending — but not requiring — that people cover their faces if they...The CDC is recommending — but not requiring — that people cover their faces if they have to go out in public as the coronavirus spreads across the US. There isn't much good evidence that masks help prevent infection from spreading in a population, except when you put them on the people who are already sick. There are also risks associated with wearing a homemade mask: You might just be turning your scarf into a virus-catcher. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. If you must go out, cover up, according to new recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to curb spread of the novel coronavirus. The recommendations to wear cloth or fabric face masks announced by President Donald Trump on Friday come as emerging evidence suggests people can transmit the coronavirus to others before they even know they've been infected. "In light of these studies, the CDC is advising the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public-health measure," Trump said. "So it's voluntary, you don't have to do it ... I don't think I'm going to be doing it." It's quite different from recommendations during the early days of the pandemic, when public-health experts at the CDC said the agency did not "recommend the use of face masks for the general public" and the US surgeon general urged Americans to stop buying masks. Scientists still don't have solid evidence that masks work well at preventing infectious-disease outbreaks, especially the homemade kind. Masks may do a little bit to help sick people from spreading their infections to others and are useful for caregivers and healthcare workers who are exposed to a lot of coronavirus particles as they care for sick patients. "We have always recommended that symptomatic people wear a mask because if you're coughing, if you have a fever, if you're symptomatic, you could transmit disease to other people," Surgeon General Jerome Adams said at the White House Friday. "We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms ... This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity, for example, coughing, speaking, or sneezing, even if those people were not exhibiting symptoms." Because masks are in such short supply, public-health experts have stressed that surgical masks should still be saved chiefly for healthcare workers (and caretakers) who are more exposed to the virus than the general public. "The CDC is recommending that Americans wear a basic cloth or fabric mask, that can be either purchased online, or simply made at home, probably material that you'd have at home," Trump said. "The CDC is not recommending the use of medical grade or surgical grade masks. We want that to be used for our great medical people that are working so hard and doing some job." The new mask guidelines are not meant to replace any of the other recommendations the federal government has put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus, including social distancing, staying 6 feet apart, and washing your hands. Trump said he was not going to be following the federal guideline, though, because "I'm feeling good." "I dunno, somehow, I don't see it for myself. I just don't," he said. "Maybe I'll change my mind." Experts are concerned that homemade face coverings don't help and could even be harmful Generally, health experts are still skeptical that masks will do a lot to prevent more people from getting sick. It's true that some people may shed the coronavirus before they show symptoms, unwittingly infecting others with COVID-19 by coughing, spitting, sputtering, or just breathing on them. But this is not the main way the virus is transmitted. "We have to look at is what is the main driver of this pandemic," World Health Organization Executive Director of Health Emergencies Mike Ryan told reporters on a call Friday. "We still believe the main driver of this pandemic is symptomatic individuals coughing or sneezing or contaminating surfaces or contaminating other individuals. Breaking that chain means ensuring that infected individuals are diagnosed and isolated, their contacts are traced and tracked and quarantined, and that people are cared for very quickly." What's more, textile experts remain concerned that homemade face coverings, which are crafted from woven fabrics made with yarns with pores between them, may not do nearly as much to protect people as surgical masks, which are usually manufactured from nonwoven filtration fabrics and may even be designed to trap virus particles inside. Clothes and scarves don't do that. "Homemade masks may give more peace of mind than actual physical protection," Emiel DenHartog, the associate director of the Textile Protection and Comfort Center at North Carolina State University, told Business Insider in an email. "In personal protection, it is generally not true that anything is better than nothing." Ben Cowling, a professor of epidemiology and a mask researcher at the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health, who himself wears a mask when he goes out in public, said that staying home is still a better way to remain virus-free. "Social distancing would definitely be the best," Cowling told Business Insider. "I mean, if everybody stays in their home, then there's no way for the virus to spread."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Filing for unemployment? Here's how to get started.
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