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Coronavirus: NHS targets fake news spreading online

Official NHS guidance about coronavirus is to appear at the top of internet search results in an att..

By admin , in Health , at March 10, 2020

Official NHS guidance about coronavirus is to appear at the top of internet search results in an attempt to combat misinformation about the infection.

The NHS said firms including Google and Facebook will help relay health advice in search results for "coronavirus".

In the UK, five people have died from the virus. There were 319 confirmed cases as of 09:00 GMT on Monday.

It comes as the Foreign Office warned British residents against all but essential travel to Italy.

A spokesman for the UK Foreign Office said: "The advice is that anyone who arrives from Italy subsequent to the Italian government decision should now self-isolate for 14 days."

On Monday the Italian authorities extended strict quarantine measures to the entire country from Tuesday.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte ordered the country's entire population to stay home and seek permission for essential travel.

He said passengers departing on flights would have to justify themselves, as will all those who arrived by plane.

The NHS has unveiled a range of measures as part of its response to try to stop fake news being spread about coronavirus on the internet.

Searches for "coronavirus" on Google, Facebook and YouTube will now promote information from the National Health Service or the World Health Organization.

The NHS said it had worked with Twitter to take down an account claiming to be a hospital and spreading false information, while it is also speaking out against homeopaths promoting false treatments online.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the actions meant the public could access accurate health information "which is more crucial than ever as we continue our response to coronavirus".

The UK is currently in the first phase – "containment" – of the government's four-part plan.

On Monday, health officials said people who showed "even minor" signs of respiratory tract infections or a fever would soon be told to self-isolate for seven days in an effort to tackle the outbreak.

The change in advice could happen within the next 10 to 14 days, the UK's chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also suggested the elderly and vulnerable could be asked to stay home in the near future.

The UK government has also announced it is to extend shop delivery hours to ensure that supermarkets have basic items, amid stockpiling concerns.

The environment department, Defra, said by allowing night-time deliveries – currently restricted to avoid disturbing locals – stock would be able to move more quickly from warehouses to shelves.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted that he stood "ready to allow drivers' hours to be safely and temporarily extended, if needed".

He has also written to the European Commission, asking for rules on take-off and landing slot allocations at major airports to be relaxed during the outbreak.

Under European law, if flights are not operated, slots have to be forfeited.

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