UNS – Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has spread to 159 countries in the world, one of which is Indonesia. Since first appeared in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China on 31st December 2019, Covid-19 spread rapidly and now has infected 244,525 people worldwide.
The rapid spread of Covid-19 has caused panic. The panic also began to hit Indonesia since early February. The panic is not only caused by the easy transmission of Covid-19 but also the level of news coverage of Covid-19 in various media. Besides that, netizen gave prompt responses to Covid-19 by searching and sharing information actively in social media or instant messaging.
Universitas Sebelas Maret (UNS) Surakarta, communication expert, Dr. Andre Rahmanto commented on the ease in information sharing surrounding Covid-19. According to Dr. Andre, the level of media coverage on Covid-19 is caused by people’s dissatisfaction in searching for information.
“The phenomenon surrounding Covid-19 made all media to make news coverage on it because they think this information will be sought by the public. Similarly, the community seems to be dissatisfied in searching and talking about this information because it has a direct impact on everyone. The panic is a result when the information received is different and out of sync, thus, there is no definite (news) to grip on to,” stated Dr. Andre to uns.ac.id, Monday (23/3/2020).
Dr. Andre mentioned that the panic in the community is also caused by the number of information accepted without filtering. Besides that, the community also tends to believe misinformation disseminated through social media, which adds to their panic mode.
“In the normal situation, a lot (our people) believe misinformation easily, it will be amplified during a crisis. The psychology (condition) of the community tend to be panic and insecure. Healthy or not (red: social media) depends on us, the users, because the number of information in social media cannot be limited. Each individual needs to limit access to information to what we need. Don’t get too involved with all kinds of information about Covid-19,” he continued.
The explanation from Dr. Andre is in line with the statement from the academic member of the Psychology Program Faculty of Medical Science (FK) UNS, Rini Setyowati, M.Psi previously. Rini, in an interview with uns.ac.id stated that confusing or inaccurate news will trigger stress in the community that affects the stress hormone.
To avoid stress, Dr. Andre who is the Head of Master of Communication Studies, UNS Postgraduate Program, reminded the community to read sufficient and appropriate information about Covid-19 and pay attention to the credibility of the information source. To check the accuracy of information or news, Dr. Andre asked the community to refer to the information from Dewan Pers (Press Council) verified media and update their information on Covid-19 on government official site: www.covid19.go.id.
Besides mentioning the number of misinformation, Dr. Andre also mentioned the lack of media sensitivity in reporting patients who are positive Covid-19. According to Dr. Andre, some reports violate individual rights, such as patient privacy.
“Some media have a lack of sensitiveness about privacy, maybe they wanted to make it clearer to the public but they violate individual rights by doing so. Information about health is a personal secret unless the patient allows it to be revealed,” explained Dr. Andre.
However, he also asked media to support the government efforts in preventing the spread of Covid-19 by informing the community about the map of Covid-19 infection so that the community can be alert and stay away from the affected location.
At the end of the interview with uns.ac.id, Dr. Andre provided input and suggestion, both for the media and for the community as receiver of information in responding to Covid-19. One of which is a request for the media to assist in solving Covid-19 related problems.
“News coverage about Covid-19 should not discredit or develop certain stereotyping on patients because, like any disease in general, everyone has a chance of getting infected. Ideally, at this time (media share) information that helps to solve the problem. For example, by making a campaign about social distancing. The media needs to balance news coverage on the need for alertness but also provide hope. The community should not get too concerned with information about Covid-19 that add stress,” Dr. Andre concluded. Humas UNS/Yefta