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New Coronavirus And The Fake News Factory

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We keep this article updated with facts and information from reliable sources such as WHO, CDC, NHS and other health organizations who are constantly monitoring the New Coronavirus – COVID-19. We recommend people to contact their health services in case they feel unwell and may be showing Coronavirus like symptoms. Do not rely on social networking sites for up to date information, cure, prevention techniques and should not panic because of such kind of messages and information circulating on internet.

With more than 100,000 people infected (at the time of writing) all over the world and number of deaths increasing each day, it is obvious that you would have some concerns about the new Coronavirus (Covid-19). Thoughts such as how likely it is to happen to you or your loved ones to symptoms, prevention and cure are what obviously come to mind. During such times, there are lot of good information and advice floating around in the internet but so are the fake news and misinformation and you need to be careful in identifying which is which. In this article we would like to focus on the New Coronavirus and the fake news factory at work. We would understand what we can do to keep fake news factory at check and help government, health organizations and our communities fight against this new virus.

New Coronavirus and the fake news factory

We understand that it is quite difficult to keep yourself updated with latest information in such a rapidly changing situation or topic such as the New Coronavirus outbreak. While lots of organizations around the world such as, World Health Organization (WHO), National Health Service (NHS), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reputed media houses such as BBC, NYTimes and different government bodies are trying to make public aware about the Coronavirus outbreak and measures they can take to keep themselves safe and Virus contained, there are many more unreliable or unverified information and advice floating around in the Social media, eCommerce sites and other internet sources. The misinformation spread can be about anything such as analyzing symptoms, preventive measures, unverified herbal treatments or home made remedies, fear of scarcity of some items such as food, unnecessarily creating demands of limited items such as Masks etc or to target specific communities and create panic, chaos and hatred. The whole idea is to cause panic which would lead to profiteering or chaos.

During such times it therefore becomes responsibility for each one of us to verify any information that we receive via social media or word of mouth, verify and validate it before forwarding or giving similar advice to anyone.

What is the New Coronavirus – Covid 19

As per WHO (World Health Organization) Coronaviruses are a large family of Viruses which causes illness from common cold to severe diseases such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. New Coronavirus (Covid-19) appeared first in the Wuhan, China in December 2019 and is a new strain of Coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans and hence the name the New Coronavirus -COVID-19 (CO for Corona, VI for Virus, D for Disease, 19 for year 2019).

How is Coronavirus spread

Coronavirus spreads by direct contact such as from droplets from another person sneezing or coughing or via touching surfaces which are already infected with Coronavirus such as door knobs etc.

Why you should know about the new Coronavirus

As of 8th March 2020, there are around 107,646 cases of Coronavirus worldwide and 3,660 deaths so it is a topic that requires attention from all of us. With this outbreak spreading across many new countries, you simply cannot rely only on health organizations and government to do everything for us. To ensure, we as a society fight and win against this and any such Virus outbreaks, governments and health organizations need support from people. People can help health organizations such as WHO, CDC and different national health organizations by being aware of latest information about this disease and spreading correct, reliable information from these health organizations to everybody.

By spreading the correct information and advice you help your country and community by avoiding unnecessary panic and miscommunication. This also helps make it very difficult for the profiteers to take undue advantage of public. Remember, most of the panic, hatred and crisis is caused by people trying to make profit in such situation. Being vigilant and passing on the right messages helps country and society overcome such situations much easily.

New Coronavirus And The Fake News Factory At Work

As the number of infected people rise so does the conspiracy theories and unfounded claims about the Coronavirus. Social media websites and messaging apps companies such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Whatsapp etc have already started seeing many false information doing rounds in their platform. While due to the private nature of Whatsapp it is difficult to confirm the numbers but the spread of such information can be seen in other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube by the number of shares, likes, comments on such stories. Few of the stories circulating in social media and messaging apps and already listed under WHO myth buster and CDC Share facts are –

Spraying Alcohol and Chlorine all over the body kills the new Coronavirus

The claim has been rejected since Alcohol and Chlorine cannot kill viruses already inside someones body. Also, use of such substances can be harmful for clothes or mucus membranes such as eyes, mouth according to WHO.

Use of hand dryers as effective measure for killing Coronavirus

The claim is rejected since the most effective way to prevent spread of Coronavirus is still washing hands with soap or using alcohol based Hand Sanitiser or Hand Rub.

Cold Snow and Weather can kill Coronavirus

This claim has also been rejected since the normal human body temperature is around – 36.5°C to 37°C irrespective of the extreme outside temperature.

Coronavirus cannot be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates

Based on evidences so far, the new Coronavirus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates. As per WHO the new Coronavirus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather and hence people need to adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to areas reporting Coronavirus cases.

Eating Garlic help prevent infection with new Coronavirus

Garlic is a healthy food that may have some microbial properties however there is no evidence from current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from contracting new Coronavirus.

COVID-19 cannot happen to Americans

Diseases can make ANYONE sick regardless of their ethnicity or race and hence if you are an American or from any other country from Europe, you have similar chances of getting infected as any person of Asian descent.

Coronavirus can happen to only Old people or People with Pre-existing conditions

People of ALL AGES can be infected by the New Coronavirus however older people or people with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heat disease appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. People of all ages must take protective measures as are being directed by health organizations.

Using mask to stop infection

If you are an infected person then the mask help you stop spreading infection to other people. Also, if you are a Doctor or medical care worker, or someone who is taking care of infected people then the masks helps you avoid contracting infection. In all other cases you do not require a mask especially for this Coronavirus Virus outbreak. Remember, the disease spreads via direct contact and is not air-borne.

Antibiotics are effective in preventing and curing the New Coronavirus

Antibiotics work only on Bacteria related infections and diseases. Antibiotics do not work on Viruses. New Coronavirus is a virus and hence antibiotics should not be used to cure or prevent it.

Doctors have specific medicine to prevent or treat the New Coronavirus

Currently there is no specific medicine to prevent or cure the New Coronavirus. However, Doctors at best are trying to treat and relieve symptoms of people infected with the virus. As of now, specific treatments are being investigated and will undergo clinical trials and will take sometime. Once this is done only then a treatment or vaccine or medicine will be available as a cure for this virus.

Also, check following article from Times Of India about the Whatsapp messages carrying fake or misinformation about the Coronavirus. If you want to check how some fake news videos and messages are circulating in Whatsapp and other social media trying to create bias or causing panic check fact checking websites such as AltNews who are exceptionally good in debunking such messages and videos especially in India. You can also check similar fact checking website such as Snopes for other Coronavirus related fact-checked messages and videos.

Based on these evidences you can understand how the fake news factory is working day and night to spread chaos and fear among the people. Luckily we have some of those who are staying vigilant and fighting against them.

How can you help your society and country stop Coronavirus

As you can see, the spread of fake news and advice causes lot of panic among the public which leads to people going on for panic shopping or buy masks or create differences between people and communities. The best way you can help government and health organizations win this fight against Coronavirus is by

  • Being aware about the virus from reliable sources such as – WHO, CDC, NHS or reliable media houses such as BBC, NyTimes, TOI and similar mediums who are providing facts based on verified and reliable sources. These agencies are your only reliable line of defense against such outbreaks so strengthen them and help yourself and your community.
  • Not forwarding or sharing unfounded claims, videos or articles targeted at specific communities, government and health agencies etc as these cause unnecessary panic. The best way to do this is doing some simple google searches and checking through valid sources or articles that link back to valid sources for correct and most up to date information, just like our current article.
  • Educating friends and family and encouraging them to get up to date information from health organizations such as WHO, CDC etc as these organizations keep track of such outbreaks and suggest corrective or preventive actions to governments. You can also refer to your country specific health organization for more updated information.
  • Avoiding crowded places, unnecessary travels etc as this helps stop or slow down of Virus spread.
  • Not panic buying stuffs as people may try to mimic your actions. Have faith on your government agencies, genuine retailers and pharmaceutical companies, researchers at health care organizations as they are putting in their day and night to keep you safe and sound and ensure everybody has access to food and everything essential.
  • Not spreading misinformation such as buying masks. Right now these are more important to people taking care of sick people such as Doctors, medical care workers or family members taking care of the infected person. Remember, if Doctors and other health care workers will not have enough masks then they may get sick which will cause unnecessary pressure on the health system.
  • Practicing basic hygiene such as frequent and proper hand wash with soap and water or using alcohol based Hand Sanitiser or Rubs. Also, practicing respiratory hygiene such as covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

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