Globally and locally, news media and social media streams have been awash with articles about the coronavirus pandemic. Many academic journals have also dedicated themselves to rapid publication and prioritisation of articles related to the pandemic, many of which have been made available open access. At the same time, much of the information being shared on these channels fails to reach a large portion of the population due to a myriad of accessibility related factors - from language to economic and digital barriers. As a group of science, health, media and public engagement academics, we have employed a range of strategies to cut through the noise and barrage of information, and attempted to provide accurate, timely and accessible information about the coronavirus COVID-19 since the beginning of the local outbreak in March 2020.
In addition to posting content to social media, our team has been traveling around Makhanda using a loudhailer and distributing printed materials in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa. Follow the links above to our media repository.
We have developed materials for distribution and display in taxis and at local shops that remain open and frequented. We have also developed materials for special issues of the Grocott’s Mail. An entire special issue of the Grocott's Mail focusing on science communication of the COVID-19 virus was guest-edited by this team, with nine thousand copies distributed in three languages, free of charge to Makhanda.
Between the 4-14th April 2020 we ran a survey through the popular Grahamstown/Makhanda Facebook Group and WhatsApp channels as one way of assisting us to design effective messaging for our community based on knowledge gaps, as well as getting information out to people through trusted lines of communication. More information and feedback on this survey will be posted here soon.
As part of the survey, we received dozens of questions and comments about the COVID-19 disease. Feedback regarding this survey can be found here: The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey - Feedback and Addressing your Questions. We will be addressing these questions here in line with information as it emerges in the unfolding epidemic from reliable, open-access sources.