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Myth-busting and fact-checking Covid-19 in South Africa

As this piece is being written South Africa has just been informed that the national lock-down that was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa more than two weeks ago has been extended by another two weeks meaning that the country, it’s society and economy will continue to be shuttered.

This move, whilst dire for all, is a bold one. And in this time of uncertainty rumors, myths, disinformation and misinformation are bound to rise in volume and distribution.

In this space SAMIP participants such as The Daily Vox are trying to counter false narratives with information. This week the youth-site published a myth-busting piece that looked at some of the most commonly shared false stories around Covid-19 such as the fact that it’s just like the common flu, spraying alcohol and chlorine on one’s body to combat the virus and who is the susceptible to the virus.

Volume, in collaboration with Africa Check, is hard at work on fact-checking mis- and disinformation on WhatsApp through their ‘What’s Crap on WhatsApp’ WhatsApp channel and podcast. This week they dispelled the following rumors on the chat app:

|FACT FLASH| Here’s “What’s Crap on WhatsApp?” today:

🔒 This photo doesn’t show Kenyans waiting for the coronavirus curfew crackdown. It’s from 2011. READ: https://bit.ly/3aZqCe0

🇺🇸 Did former US president Obama warn Africans against coronavirus vaccines? No! READ: https://bit.ly/3c0sRxv

🔎 Find all our coronavirus fact-checks in one place: https://bit.ly/3dzSN4E

💩 Listen to previous episodes of “What’s Crap on WhatsApp?” on our website: www.whatscrap.africa

Critical and missing information on demand

The lock-down has also caused a lot confusion for South Africans: from when people can leave their houses to access services to the ramifications of having to shelter in place.

Civic technologists Open Up SA released an innovative product for South Africans looking for information on evictions during the lock-down period.

The Soul City Institute for Social Justice also tweeted out information on where vulnerable people (especially women and children) could go should they need to report abuse of power by the police and gender-based violence.

How to shoot video in a pandemic

With the lock-down in place journalists and newsrooms are considered essential services and have the privilege of getting around where others can’t. But if you’re a small newsroom or start-up without the proper press credentials you may find yourself relying on user-generated content which comes with its own trade-offs and pay-offs.

Hashtag our Stories will be hosting a webinar on 15 April where co-founders Yusuf and Sumaiya Omar will be discussing how you can cover a global pandemic like Covid-19 without leaving your home.

In the masterclass, Hashtag Our Stories show participants how they are reaching millions of people with Covid-19 stories created entirely with user-generated content.

Feeding the nation and loving in a time of Corona

While most of us are sheltered in place other essential workers such as retail store workers who stock and sanitize our shops as well as farmers and farm workers are keeping the supply chains moving in order to make sure we can still purchase food during the lockdown.

Agri-business news site Food for Mzansi shone a light on those people who keep our shop’s shelves stocked up with the essentials we need during this time. Food for Mzansi is the subject of episode 3 in Volume’s podcast series on media workers and media work during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also meant disruption in our relationships and episode 2 of Daily Maverick’s recently launched podcast ‘Don’t Shoot the Messenger’ looks at how the lock-down has impacted people in terms of separating them from their loved ones.

At this point no-one knows when the lock-down will end and how the world will look when the pandemic is over. But throughout it all journalists and newsrooms, like the ones in our program and beyond, will do their best to keep everyone informed and educated.