SAMA Warns Against COVID-19 Misinformation, Urges Caution During Flu Season

SAMA Warns Against COVID-19 Misinformation, Urges Caution During Flu Season

  • The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has condemned the spread of misinformation on social media platforms about the Covid-19 Omicron XBB variant
  • SAMA emphasised that such misinformation creates unnecessary panic and confusion, especially with the onset of the influenza season
  • The current strain or variant in circulation is reported to be less severe and less transmissible compared to before

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Trisha Pillay is a Briefly News current affairs journalist in Johannesburg. For 13 years, she has devoted her professional life to covering social issues and community news, sharing her expertise with newsrooms like The Citizen newspaper, African News Network, and Newzroom Afrika. Do you have a hard news story you would like to share? Email trisha.pillay@briefly.co.za with CA in the subject line.

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SAMA warns public not to listen to false information.
The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has called on the public not to be stressed about Covid-19. Images: Ute Grabowsky
Source: Getty Images

JOHANNESBURG — The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has taken a firm stand against the spread of misinformation on social media about the Covid-19 Omicron XBB variant.

Flu season in South Africa

According to The Sowetan, SAMA CEO Dr Mzulungile Theo Nodikida expressed deep concern over how such misinformation creates unnecessary panic and confusion, especially as the country enters flu season.

Dr Nodikida emphasised the importance of individuals remaining vigilant and discerning, urging them to disregard malicious content lacking credible sources. Contrary to false claims, Covid-19 is circulating at relatively low levels nationwide, aligning with global trends. Individuals have also been reported to have developed immunity through vaccination or previous infection.

Dr Nodikida said:

"The current strain or variant in circulation is reported to be less severe and less transmissible. While reassuring the public, Sama underscores the importance of daily protective measures, including rigorous hand hygiene and adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions, to curb the spread of respiratory infections, including influenza.

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"As we enter the winter season, characterised by increased respiratory illness, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) also alerts us to the peak season of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), particularly affecting young children and older individuals."

Mzansi respond to claims

While vaccination remains one of the most effective measures in preventing severe health complications associated with influenza, many people are concerned.

Here are some of the reactions:

@Tulio de Oliveira shared:

"No need to panic over confirmed cases of new Covid-19 sub-variant in SA, says health dept."

@Lulu Bowen commented:

"This narrative is being pushed hard in South Africa. I spoke to a friend tonight, and he said the fear is circa COVID 2020 level... and it's going into winter, so it's 'flu' season'."

@Rosemarie Lodewick expressed:

"The flu season in South Africa is nasty this time around!"

@Sol asked:

"How do we treat this? Currently, here in South Africa, we are in the flu season, and people are complaining."

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@iNaomiAllen shared:

"My first flu season in South Africa is not going well."

@Sharma expressed:

"This is not like normal flu."

Health Department urges citizens to protect themselves.

In a related story, Briefly News reported that the Department of Health has pleaded with South Africans to vaccinate ahead of this year's flu season.

The department noted an increase in the respiratory syncytial virus, which had similar symptoms to Covid-19 and SARS-CoV-2. Many social media users seemed disinterested in flu vaccination before the 2024 winter season.

Source: Briefly News

Authors:
Trisha Pillay avatar

Trisha Pillay (Weekend current affairs editor) Trisha Pillay is a Current Affairs writer at Briefly News. She has a degree in Journalism from the University of Johannesburg and an Honours degree in International Politics from UNISA. She joined ENCA straight out of varsity and completed an internship at the channel. Pillay later went on to cover politics, crime, entertainment, and current affairs at the Citizen Newspaper. She joined Newzroom Afrika in 2019 and became a senior bulletin editor for shows focused on politics and current affairs on the channel. She joined Briefly News in 2023. You can contact her at trisha.pillay@briefly.co.za

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