Indonesia faces challenges of COVID-19’s information ‘tsunami’

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Dr. Liestianingsih Dwi D, Dra., M.Si speaks in the Communication Science webinar Series on the importance of health communication in COVID-19 era. (Photo: Dimar Herfano)
Dr. Liestianingsih Dwi D, Dra., M.Si speaks in the Communication Science webinar Series on the importance of health communication in COVID-19 era. (Photo: Dimar Herfano)

UNAIR NEWS – The flow of communication in 2020 will increase greatly, especially on information related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Education to the Indonesian people is very important and should get special attention, especially about Covid-19 information. There is fear from many hoaxes in Indonesia related to pandemic information.

Department of Communication, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP) Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR) held a webinar about Digital Family: Health Communication in the Era of COVID-19. The 2-hour webinar through Zoom meeting app on Thursday, September 25, 2020 presented two speakers, lecturer of Communication Science Dr. Liestianingsih Dwi D, Dra., M.Si from UNAIR and Rizanna Rosemary MHC, PhD from Syiah Kuala University Banda Aceh.

Dr. Liestianingsih explained again the timelines of COVID-19 in the world and in Indonesia. Starting from the first case in China, December 31, 2019, then WHO announced a global health emergency on January 30, 2020, the dramatic evacuation of Indonesian citizens in Wuhan, and on March 2 President Jokowi announced first two cases of COVID- 19 in Depok.

Efforts were made by the government, such as forming a task force, increasing the number of health facilities (PPE, rapid test, PCR), to conducting research in universities and institutions. “How is the communication on information regarding the prevention of COVID-19 in various media done? This is our common problem. Why does the case continue to rise? Do problems exist in communication science?” said the Communication Science lecturer.

There was an enormous amount of information on COVID-19 from the government, social media, mass media received by the public, Dr. Liestianingsih called it the Tsunami COVID-19 information. “The tsunami of information is what makes us stutter. People are confused, distrustful, resistant and panicked,” she said.

The confusion arises because of many new health terms, for example, physical distancing, social distancing, and others. Also, there are different statements from officials, such as rumors on opening a cinema, eucalyptus oil, and most recently, unsafe scuba masks.

From this confusion, many people do not believe it, disregard the health recommendation, and get into panic by buying up scarce and expensive basic necessities, masks, PPE. “Someone sprayed anyone entering the neighborhood, closing the alleyway, these actions were expressions of panic,” she said.

On the new health adaptation communication; preventive, promotive, and behavior change, Dr. Liestianingsih sees that behavior change is the last target that must be achieved to flatten the curve.

“To achieve the new normal, our problem is culture, Indonesians are used to shaking hands with other people. Changes are certainly not easy,” she added.

Indonesian people tend to be communal, love to gather, love to meet. Second, how can we tackle many fake news in society. “The challenge is in the culture, low media literacy making it difficult for us to adapt to the new normal,” she said.

Therefore, a cultural approach is needed through the role of local community leaders, with legal and social sanctions that are supervised by relevant officials. (*)

Author: R. Dimar Herfano Akbar

Editor: Feri Fenoria

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