Words matter in COVID 19 communication

Words matter in Communicating COVID 19 pandemic. It is not easy. Unknowingly, we contribute to social stigma with our words and phrases. UN agencies have been addressing this problem during the past two decades with regard to previous outbreaks and pandemics through their country counterparts.

Still, the problem exists and is widespread.

Find out the words and phrases that we need to use and avoid while communicating COVID 19.

Words matter in COVID 19 communication; it matters a lot.

Raise awareness among your circles, particularly opinion leaders, decision-makers, program managers, social media, and other influencers including media reporters, and their editors.

Talk about Do not talk about
COVID -19Wuhan virus/ Chinese virus
People who have COVID -19COVID – 19 cases
People who are being treated for COVID -19
People who died after contracting COVID -19COVID – 19 victims
People “acquiring” or “contracting” COVID-19People “transmitting COVID-19” / People “infecting” others/ “spreading the virus to others”
Talk positively, effectiveness of the measures taken Do not use hyperbolic language designed to raise fear like, “plague”, “apocalypse”.
Do not emphasize or dwell on negatives, messages of threat
Risk communication guide table: https://messageframing.com/
prepared based on information available in the WHO/UNICEF guide document: https://www.unicef.org/media/65931/file/Social%20stigma%20associated%20with%20the%20coronavirus%20disease%202019%20(COVID-19).pdf

Author: Prasantha De Silva

A specialist in Community Medicine board-certified in Sri Lanka and a research analyst in Canada

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