COVID-19, Comics, and the Visual Culture of Contagion

One cultural response to the disruption and uncertainty during an infectious disease outbreak is the construction of what is sometimes called the “outbreak narrative”, a formulaic plot that serves to shape our collective understanding of a pandemic.

This narrative traces the emergence and spread of a novel pathogen and the scientific, social, and political responses to the outbreak. In doing so, the outbreak narrative emphasises the breakdown of boundaries, the sites of infection, the social interactions that are disrupted and enacted, and the efforts of science to contain the spread and find a cure. In our increasingly visual society, images are a vital component of the outbreak narrative and more broadly contribute to the visual culture of contagion.

Comics, as both a visual medium and cultural product, are important contributions to the visual culture of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: COVID-19, Comics, and the Visual Culture of Contagion

    Questions and Answers: Adolescents, Youth and COVID-19

    These questions and answers were developed by the World Health Organization, UNESCO, UNFPA and UNICEF.

    Questions include:

    • Can adolescents catch COVID-19?
    • Can adolescents spread COVID-19 to other people even if they have mild or no symptoms?
    • Since there are few known cases of adolescents getting seriously ill with COVID-19, should I go to a health facility if I develop symptoms of the disease?
    • I am on medication for a chronic health condition. Should I change anything?
    • I am bored staying home. Since I am very unlikely to get severely ill even if I was to get COVID-19, why is it important that I follow the guidelines to prevent transmission such as keeping physical distance from other people?
    • I am feeling really anxious about COVID-19 and its impact on my life. What should I do?

    Source: Questions and Answers: Adolescents, Youth and COVID-19

      International COVID-19 Awareness and Responses Evaluation Study

      Understanding people’s concerns about COVID-19, their perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes about public health policies, and how they impact what people are (and are not) willing to do will be important for informing policy strategy and how they are communicated, to ensure the best health and economic outcomes.

      The iCARE Study will capture key data on people’s awareness, attitudes, and behaviors as they relate to the COVID-19 policies, as well as the impacts that COVID-19 is having on people’s physical and mental health, financial situation, and quality of life.

      Data from approximately 250,000 people around the world will be analyzed to understand what government policies are (and are not) influencing behavior and outcomes, and in whom these policies are most or least effective. This data can be used to inform governments on the efficacy of policy measures on both people’s behavior, and on key health and quality of life outcomes.

      Source: International COVID-19 Awareness and Responses Evaluation Study

        Talking to Community: Behavioural Change in the Age of COVID-19

        Response to public health emergencies requires changes in regular behavioural patterns. Encouraging these changes requires coordination and an understanding of the culture and communities affected.

        This article, written by Pramudith D. Rupasinghedescribes experiences with Ebola and COVID-19 wherein behavior change was an integral part of working with communities to prevent infection, care for the sick, and learn about the disease in Sri Lanka and Liberia.

        Source: Talking to Community: Behavioural Change in the Age of COVID-19

          Who to Trust and How to Overcome COVID-19 Misinformation in Nigeria

          In Nigeria, as in many countries, social media has allowed anyone to post COVID-19 misinformation as truth and fact, while misleading the public and, in some cases, causing real damage.

          This article reviews some of the major misinformation events in Nigeria during the pandemic and notes the steps being taken to correct that situation.

          Source: Who to Trust and How to Overcome COVID-19 Misinformation in Nigeria

            COVID-19 Care in India: The Course to Self-Reliance

            The public health response to COVID-19 in India has been highly centralized, resulting in a homogenous strategy applied across a sixth of the world’s population.

            India was placed in a nationwide lockdown on March 24, 2020, with restrictions being relaxed in three phases since June. In May 2020, the prime minister called upon the Indian people to be self-reliant. The authors discuss opportunities to modify several aspects of the medical response to echo this sentiment.

            They conclude that what is still needed is a plethora of low-tech solutions (especially facial coverings), adherence to science, and societal participation in caring for vulnerable people.

            Source: COVID-19 Care in India: The Course to Self-Reliance

              COVID-19–Related Infodemic and Its Impact on Public Health: A Global Social Media Analysis

              The authors of this article followed and examined COVID-19–related rumors, stigma, and conspiracy theories circulating on online platforms, including fact-checking agency websites, Facebook, Twitter, and online newspapers, and their impacts on public health.

              Information was extracted between December 31, 2019 and April 5, 2020, and descriptively analyzed. They performed a content analysis of the news articles to compare and contrast data collected from other sources, and identified 2,311 reports of rumors, stigma, and conspiracy theories in 25 languages from 87 countries. Claims were related to illness, transmission and mortality (24%), control measures (21%), treatment and cure (19%), cause of disease including the origin (15%), violence (1%), and miscellaneous (20%).

              Of the 2,276 reports for which text ratings were available, 1,856 claims were false (82%).

              Misinformation fueled by rumors, stigma, and conspiracy theories can have potentially serious implications on the individual and community if prioritized over evidence-based guidelines. Health agencies must track misinformation associated with the COVID-19 in real time, and engage local communities and government stakeholders to debunk misinformation.

              Source: COVID-19–Related Infodemic and Its Impact on Public Health: A Global Social Media Analysis

                How to Report Misinformation Online

                As the world responds to the  COVID-19 pandemic, we all face the challenge of an overabundance of information related to the virus. Some of this information may be false and potentially harmful.

                Inaccurate information spreads widely and at speed, making it more difficult for the public to identify verified facts and advice  from trusted sources, such as  their local health authority or WHO. However, everyone can help to stop the spread. If you see content online that you believe to be false or misleading, you can report it to the hosting social media platform.

                This page offers links to various social media platforms’ sites for reporting inappropriate content.

                Source: How to Report Misinformation Online

                  Immunizing the Public against Misinformation

                  Proliferating misinformation — even when the content is, in a best-case scenario, harmless — can have serious and even social and lethal health ramifications in the context of a global pandemic. In some countries, rumours about impending food scarcity prompted people to stockpile supplies early on in the epidemic and caused actual shortages.

                  This article is an interview with Tim Nguyen whose team manages the Information Network for Epidemics (EPI-WIN), which is leading WHO work on managing infodemics.

                  Source: Immunizing the Public against Misinformation

                    Teaching Senior Citizens to Spot Misinformation

                    This article explains that COVID-19 has made the topic of misinformation timely and urgent. Discerning reliable health information is especially a matter of life or death for older people who are more vulnerable to the virus, and showcases projects created to ameliorate the situation.

                    Tips to spot misinformation and avoid sharing it include evaluating whether news is from a known media outlet; noting the publication date, who wrote the content, and whether the author is reputable; checking if a website has a .gov, .edu, .org or .com suffix; and if a website is selling a product.

                    Source: Teaching Senior Citizens to Spot Misinformation