SINGAPORE (Feb 14): Over the past few weeks, we have been bombarded with blow-by-blow accounts of the coronavirus outbreak, including the extended lockdown in China, the widening range of containment measures taken by the rest of the world, the rising number of people infected and the death toll. And yes, the coronavirus that has hogged headlines around the world now has a name: Covid-19.

There is no escaping the plethora of narratives, real and fake, in both the mainstream media and on social media. Indeed, we are witnessing how sensationalisation of the outbreak has the power to send normal, rational people into mass hysteria — as evidenced by photos and videos of people emptying supermarket shelves and long, snaking queues for face masks.

We can understand why people are rushing to buy face masks (despite evidence of their very limited effectiveness as a protection against infection), hand sanitisers, instant noodles, rice and canned food. But the hoarding of toilet paper and carbonated soft drinks? Surely this is a signal for investors and the public to stop and take a really hard look at Covid-19 — based on facts.

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