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PREPARED BY: NGO BRAVO (Sarajevo) Bosnia & Herzegovina

June 16, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached Bosnia and Herzegovina on 5 March 2020. On 17 March 2020, the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared a state of emergency in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 21 March 2020, the first death in the country from COVID-19 was announced in a hospital in Bihać. As of 12 July, in Bosnia and Herzegovina there were 6 877 confirmed coronavirus cases.

News and views about corona virus in Bosnia and Herzegovina have spread in a way that no health emergency has done before. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have played critical roles in sharing news and information, but also in disseminating rumors and misinformation. Fake news contained useless, incorrect or even harmful information and advice, which could hamper the public health response and add to social disorder and division. Some fake news also contained a mixture of correct and false information, which made it difficult to spot what is true and accurate.

As the virus spread, so did the social media debates. On Facebook and Twitter, discussions have often taken place ahead of official announcements.

Recent articles published on the website dispel widespread myths, such as:

Conspiracy theories

Purported links between 5G networks and Covid19, claiming that the corona virus outbreak was directly caused by electromagnetic fields and by the introduction of 5G and wireless technologies.

Some sources have claimed the virus is a bioweapon accidentally or purposefully leaked from a laboratory. Similarly, conspiracy theories accusing China for manufacturing the virus or accusing different world business leaders of causing the epidemic to sell a vaccine were spreading on social media and various web portals.

Misreporting of common symptoms and recovery

Facts that people cannot recover from Covid-19 or that the ability to hold your breath for up to 10 seconds every morning is a sign people do not have the corona virus.

Prevention and treatment misinformation

False measures, such as traditional treatments and fake remedies, like eating garlic, drinking warm water with lemon slices or adulterated alcohol etc. Many sources reported how exposing to temperatures above 25 degrees can prevent and cure corona virus infection.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a massive health crisis. It is also a humanitarian and development crisis that threatens to leave deep social, economic, and political scars in the years to come. Spreading disinformation and misinformation about COVID-19 has very serious consequences, endangering public health and directly affecting people’s lives, as well as creating confusion, distrust and fear.

Today more than ever, as the whole world is in the face of health crisis, residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina need quality and responsible news reporting, not only to identify disinformation, but also to provide sound public health advice and build community solidarity.