Misinformation and disinformation in the health space are thriving, including on COVID-19. It is important that you rely only on authoritative sources to get updated information on the COVID-19 outbreak.
We suggest that you follow the advice of your public health authorities, and the websites of relevant EU and international organisations: ECDC and WHO. You can also help by not sharing unverified information coming from dubious sources.
On our side, at the European Commission we are helping fight disinformation through a close cooperation with online platforms. We are encouraging them to promote authoritative sources, demote content that is fact-checked as false or misleading, and take down illegal content or content that could cause physical harm.
Here are some of the facts:
The coronavirus crisis does not signal the collapse of the Schengen Area. On the contrary – we are seeing how indispensable Schengen is to the European economy and way of life. In the current exceptional situation, many EU Member States introduced temporary border controls to slow the spread of coronavirus, but the Commission is ensuring that EU-wide supply chains continue to operate and that flow of goods and key services continues around the clock. The introduction of ‘green lanes’ will allow all freight vehicles to cross internal Schengen borders within 15 minutes.
Should any mobile data be collected, it will always be in full respect of citizens’ privacy and data protection rights. The Commission has asked telecom firms to supply anonymised and aggregated mobile metadata, which will help to analyse the virus’ patterns of diffusion. This does not mean that protection has been lifted: The data would not allow to track or monitor individual users. The findings will be made available to Member States. This project will be fully compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and the ePrivacy legislation and individual data sets of citizens would never be identified.
The EU and the Member States take care of different things – in coordination with each other. The ability to pass laws at country level to tackle the coronavirus rests entirely with Member States – the Commission does not have a right to interfere in national legislation and decisions on subjects such as health. On the other hand, the EU can put together European policies and fast, coordinated, pan-European initiatives to tackle the crisis together with Member States. An example of this is that the decision to go into ‘lockdown’ and to close a country’s borders is made on a national level, whilst the mobilisation of €140 million from EU funds to find a vaccine, new treatments and diagnostic tests is made on an EU level.
Migrants are not bringing COVID-19 to Europe. The coronavirus is spread from one infected person to another through droplets that people sneeze, cough or exhale, and is not carried by any particular population or group. If you read that the virus is purposefully being spread by migrants or specific ethnic groups, be assured that there is no scientific basis to such claims. In fact, COVID-19 is a global crisis that requires global solidarity.