People have enough to worry about as the Covid-19 virus continues its destructive passage though the wellbeing of Australians and the national economy but the disease is being trailed by more danger and unwanted hardship through human foolishness, stupidity and sometimes outright evil.

Despite earnest efforts by the large social media companies to limit misuse of the platforms, mischief and misinformation manages to persist and grow, sometimes overwhelming official information and expert advice.

The result is that an already alarmed and uncertain population is given even more to worry about than is absolutely necessary.

Some of the effects of the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus lead to strange occurrences and widely-held fancies that basic essentials will be in short supply.

Hence, the daily stripping of some key lines of supermarket goods such as toilet paper, flour, sugar, pasta, and tinned foods.

The great toilet paper buy-up is one such social phenomenon that few could have predicted.

However, the seriousness of the virus crisis has grown around the world and here in Australia with each
passing day.

The world is facing a major population health problem and an extremely damaging economic crisis which is likely to persist for some time.

Governments in Australia have been trying to do their very best to meet the challenges of the twin crises with responses more attuned to wartime. Stringent controls have been placed on the normal operations of communities and billions of dollars will flow to try to preserve our way of life until the virus is spent as a threat.

The attempts by authorities to deal with the difficulties our society now face, however, continue to be undermined by the persistence of ‘fake’ news and misleading information.

According to a Canberra researcher Australians tend to have a reluctance to check what is being fed to them by some social media sites.

Even if the information being presented is clearly wrong, people tend to continue to believe, and pass on, dubious claims and statements.

Misinformation sometimes is generated through misinterpretation or a repeated wrongly-held view.

We should all seek to verify claims with reference to other sources.

But the biggest problem lies in the work of those examples of human scum who use a serious set of circumstances such as we face with the coronavirus to fraudulently seek to extract money from desperate and anxious people.

These creatures operate fake shopping sites, cynically exploit trusting people, often the elderly, use financial scams, or seek to access personal information such as bank account details. Often such criminal operations are international in scope and are able to gouge millions of dollars from people in a time of crisis.

In a national emergency when martial law applies looters may face draconian punishment.

Many may think it is a pity that the scammers who can cause so much added misery in a time of crisis can escape with penalties which were legislated in a less desperate time.

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