Communicating the coronavirus crisis

By Kathleen Uyttewaal on

David Spiegelhalter is Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, based at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge. What better person to ask about the UK government's communications regarding Covid-19? Here is what he told us.

How should one communicate in a crisis? There are some basic principles, which I learnt from John Krebs, former Chair of the Food Standard Agency, who had to deal with many crises. The first thing is that you should be communicating a lot, consistently and with trusted sources. You have to be open and transparent. You have to say what you do know and then you have to say what you don't know. You have to emphasise, and keep emphasising, the uncertainty, the fact that there is much we don't know. Then you have to say what you are planning to do and why. Finally, you have to say what people themselves can do, how they should act. The crucial thing to say is that this will change as we learn more.

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