As if the coronavirus that originated in China and which has now spread to several countries were not bad enough, people also have to contend with a slew of information that confounds and fans fear about the virus.
The BBC has compiled the various attempts at misinformation that has likewise spread to many countries, facilitated by the Internet. Among them are: False health advice, shared by many social media users, have circulated the Internet and included valid and non-valid suggestions on how to cure or prevent the disease. Keeping the throat moist, avoiding spicy food or cold/preserved food and drinks for 90 days, and drinking garlic water are among these supposedly helpful steps.
However, the World Health Organizations’s only official advice is for people to avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products, as there is no vaccine yet for this kind of virus.
Some videos have also attempted to show the origin of the virus—the consumption of bat soup in China.
Others suggest the virus has been known for years, and that the current outbreak has been deliberately manufactured to attract funds for the development of a vaccine.
Other posts hint that the virus is part of a biological weapons program of China, even quoting a supposed Israeli military intelligence officer. Yet another post linked the virus to a supposed policy breach at a laboratory in Canada, where a researcher—reported to have gone to a biosafety facility in Wuhan several times—had been suspended. The researcher and her husband were said to have been a “spy team.”
A supposed whistleblower video showed a woman in a protective suit making claims about the virus, for instance, that it has had a second mutation which can infect up to 14 individuals.
Efforts to fact check all these claims are under way and should be aggressively pushed as the search for a cure to the virus.
In the meantime, amid our collective anxiety and fear for our and our loved ones’ health, we need only to keep the basics in mind. Regularly washing our hands, covering hands and mouth when sneezing or coughing, and staying home when there is no urgent need to go out.
Add to that being discerning about the information we receive, believe and pass along, ensuring that we do not fan speculation, and relying only on official statements and credible sources.