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From fighting misinformation to self-improvement during COVID-19

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By AuthorAID Team | May 12, 2020  | None

Umar Faruk Apord Karim is a nutritionist from Ghana. He discusses the importance of fighting misinformation in the COVID-19 pandemic. He also writes about taking the opportunity to learn new skills.

Initially, my keen interest in the COVID-19 was the concern about its impact on global trade and politics. China has become the economic hub of the world. Everyone goes there for trade, especially lower and middle-income countries, and so soon enough everyone may contract the Coronavirus. Therefore, I began reading intensely about the Coronavirus on WHO and other legitimate websites in order to educate others as well.

I am disturbed by the misinformation and disinformation in the public spread by conspiracy theorists. I realized that worst of the virus will not be how far the spread will be, but how misinformation can be spread as fast as the reproductive rate of the virus. This misinformation has the potential for triggering more infection and transmission of the virus as it discourages many from practising the safety precautionary measures. I began educating people about the coronavirus on WhatsApp and other platforms to help give a better understanding of the situation, taking information mainly from the WHO. I educated a lot of people about the virus at the initial stage before Ghana confirmed its first coronavirus case on 12th March 2020.

As the disease continues to infect more people in Ghana, little was done to educate people about the virus and misinformation in the public domain was not addressed rigorously. This made individuals like myself who volunteered to educate people become overwhelmed by it. The pressure grew as people continue to believe the lies spreading from all levels including religious fanatics and people who see everything as an opportunity to make politics out of it.

I decided to take a break from all the endless debates to re-channel my energy invested previously in reading and refuting such misinformation into learning something new entirely. I enrolled in a 10-day Artificial Intelligence and website development course via webinar and completed it; I am expecting a certificate from the Ghana TechLab institute by early June 2020. I have learned from the course things I couldn't have learned otherwise, I can now create models to teach machines on how to predict images, sounds and pose recognition, I can also develop a basic website and embed glitch into it for images, sound prediction and pose recognition. With this knowledge, I went further to register for a R programming online course on Udemy and gained a certificate. I would like to start a new career path as a data analyst in the future as I continue to learn more about data science and analysis. I have enrolled in many other online courses as well, pending completion.

I also dedicate my time into my newly honed hobby, which is reviewing research articles both preprint and post-publication articles on Publons Academy regarding COVID-19.

COVID-19 has brought a lot of havoc to every society for all sorts of lives and people. However, if we look deep into it and let go of control, we could be more productive and happy for every hour lived during this COVID-19 by learning new things for self-improvement and development and taking advantage in learning online. Thus can we safeguard our minds from false information and conspiracy regarding this pandemic spread by conspiracy theorists.

Therefore, I urge researchers, graduates and students alike to take advantage of this situation for personal development and self-improvement by learning new things every day that will make us more relevant and productive to society during and after COVID-19.

Thank you all.

Umar Faruk Apord Karim tweets as  @UmarFar21916782. He can also be found on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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