“I’m an old man, you know,” says Professor Karol Sikora. “I’d never done social media up until six weeks ago.” The 71-year-old former WHO chief oncologist was encouraged by a friend this year to try Twitter. On 6 March he set up an account with a friendly photo and started offering calm advice for cancer patients ahead of the impending coronavirus pandemic.

“Don’t panic,” read his first tweet. “It’s true your immune system may not be working as well as it should so take the sensible advice of washing hands, avoiding crowds and eating well.”

He posted videos with messages of reassurance, and they quickly garnered thousands of interactions. “If we all pull together against Coronavirus there is no doubt in three months we’ll be in a totally different place – sitting in the sun wondering what the fuss was about … It will pass!” He began following others in the medical community. One radiographer tweeted: “Have to admit, I am honoured and excited that @ProfKarolSikora an incredible name in oncology, just followed me on Twitter.”

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