Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) urge the hospitality sector to be wary of sharing misinformation and fake news propagating about the Coronavirus, especially on social media sites.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has labelled the spread of “fake news” on the outbreak an “infodemic”.
Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA, echoed the warnings about "fake news" specifically poisoning the Caribbean and reported in a recent webinar organized by CHTA that CARPHA was myth-busting by producing videos to serve as credible sources that would provide information and answer questions for concerned individuals.
Frank Comito, CEO and Director General of CHTA, agreed with Dr. St. John, stating: "We have seen several false reports posted online in recent days alleging contamination at a hotel. This is irresponsible. People making such false accusations should be held liable for their actions. Any such reports should be scrutinized by CARPHA or the local health authorities before one even considers sharing."
He pointed to a number of informational, reporting and monitoring protocols and procedures which are in place to help the hotel and tourism sector deal with medical emergencies, which have been carefully crafted by CARPHA and other regional health organizations.
Dr. Indar along with Mr. Comito urged all of the region's hotels which are not part of CARPHA's Tourism Health Information System (THiS), which provides support information and helps to manage early warning procedures, to sign up. "This is a very important tool which helps us to mitigate the spread of disease, and to protect the safety of residents and guests as well as the reputation of our destinations," Dr. Indar stressed. To register for THiS hotels and resorts should visit http://this.carpha.org.
CARPHA also reminded the hospitality sector that the Caribbean had a very small chance of contracting Coronavirus.
Dr. Lisa Indar, Deputy Executive Director, Surveillance Disease Prevention and Control at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), said the risk for the region was "low to moderate" and stressed the Caribbean did not have any reported cases, largely because travelers to the region from affected countries had to take a number of commercial flights before reaching the region.
But she also said, "that does not mean we cannot be prepared given the rapidly changing nature of this novel disease. We have had meetings with CMOs (Chief Medical Officers) and ministers of health to ramp up vigilance at our ports of entry."
Containment strategies to ensure the region is made as protected as possible from the virus have been executed by several Caribbean countries already.
Notably, the regular flu virus has already killed at least 10,000 people in the United States of America this season.