Fake news geared towards raising alarm about COVID-19 will not be tolerated, said Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson, accusing those who misuse social media of calling their patriotism into question.
He was delivering opening remarks at the Emergency Management Advisory Council meeting at Baobab Towers, Warrens, St Michael.
“The last thing we want is maliciousness on social media,” he said, while calling on the arm of the law to react to such cases.
At the same time, the Minister urged Barbadians to “be cool, be calm and do not panic”.
“The worst thing you can do is panic,” he said.
Hinkson also gave the assurance that the Department of Emergency Management was a part of the team which was providing a response to the threat.
He added that COVID-19 was discussed at the level of Cabinet, heads of departments of ministries and permanent secretaries over the past weeks.
But Hinkson urged Barbadians to play their part in preparing for the viral onslaught.
He said: “Be sensible; just as we prepare for the hurricane season in terms of getting sufficient food supplies, in terms of medication, but you do not overreact.
“The last thing we want is people panicking.”
The Minister also touched on the need for a comprehensive and integrated approach to disaster risk management in Barbados and the National Emergency Management System to address all hazards and phases of the disaster cycle, from preparedness and mitigation to response and recovery.
He said the discussion would focus on a national hazard mitigation policy and there would be a presentation on the national mass crowd policy, since there was a need to be concerned about disasters that could happen at mass crowd events.
Hinkson said, once agreed, these policies would go to Cabinet for ratification as part of the whole planning system, strategies and documentation.
He added that Government had also placed emphasis on strengthening disaster preparedness and resilience at the community level, in terms of building capacity in District Emergency Organizations.
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