THE alarm caused by an email purporting to be from a Worcester GP, which said the coronavirus R rate was dangerously high in the city, is a classic case of a social media post causing unnecessary panic – and another reason why trusted news sources are so important during this pandemic.

Last week a photo of a printed email dated June 18, in which a city doctor apparently told fellow GPs there had been "six new confirmed cases of Covid in Worcester city in the past 24 hours" and the city was "flagging up red for the Covid R rate", was shared on social media and caused concern.

However, when the Worcester News investigated, Worcestershire County Council said that not only was the figure of six new cases in 24 hours incorrect, but that there are no R rate figures available for Worcester - or even Worcestershire - with the closest regional measure being ‘the Midlands’.

This is an example of why people should trust local news titles such as the Worcester News and not unverified posts by individuals on social media. We wouldn't publish a claim about coronavirus figures unless we were certain the information had come from an authority such as the NHS or county council.

When we ask those authorities for such information, they respond because we are Worcester's newspaper and have decades of history behind us and trained journalists producing our articles.

Without local newspapers like the Worcester News, these kinds of rumours and 'fake news' about Covid-19 would go unchallenged and thus residents may still be fearful today that this city was seeing a spike in cases based on that initial social media post.

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