Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West Anne Rabbitte says there is a need for an opt-in public information service which would deliver text updates regarding the COVID-19 outbreak directly to people’s mobile phones.
Deputy Rabbitte appealed:
There has been much panic and rumours being spread over social media platforms and messaging services. In recent days some media reports have suggested this is a highly sophisticated and organised operation by Russia to cause ‘panic’ in western countries dealing with the pandemic.
Deputy Rabbitte continued:
Over the past week for some people, this disinformation has proven effective and caused much concern and anxiety for so many families. We need to ensure people are receiving accurate and trusted information, which is the role of a public information messaging service. Such a system would provide reliable, accurate information and it could vastly improve compliance with hand and cough hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation.
Learning from other countries, Deputy Rabbitte said:
As with every other aspect of this crisis, we can learn from other countries. Singapore has established an update service for its citizens; they simply sign themselves up to a Government messaging service which sends them the most up to date information on COVID-19 every day. The service here would not only provide the latest figures on cases and the latest measures to be undertaken by Government, it would also encourage people to take the necessary precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus without undue delay.
Deputy Rabbitte concluded:
We need to ensure we are getting our news from trusted sources. An information messaging service can become one of those trusted sources”.