It seems that the world is fighting two fronts on the spread of the novel coronavirus: On the medical front and the misinformation front, which could lead to more people getting infected. A disturbing number of people already think that you get coronavirus by drinking Corona Beer.
We could all use a little less fear-mongering and fake news about the deadly virus, but some information is so convincing they seem true. Below are some of the misinformation being circulated on social media.
1. Gargling salt water can help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
It might alleviate halitosis to some extent, but rinsing your mouth with salt water does not prevent infection from any outbreak.
According to the purveyors of the false information, the salt would kill viruses and bacteria entering or leaving your mouth. This is untrue. The novel coronavirus is a respiratory disease that affects the upper respiratory system (and therefore thrives in the lungs, not in the mouth). The World Health Organization said saline solution does not help in protecting against the disease.
2. Coronavirus Hospital in Wuhan, China was built in two days.
A post circulating on Facebook claims China built a hospital dedicated to treating patients infected with the coronavirus in two days. This is false. The image of the hospital complex is a stock photo from a year ago. When Agence France-Presse (AFP) visited the site, it found the hospital is still under construction.
3. The coronavirus was a government experiment.
This conspiracy theory alleges that the novel coronavirus was created by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. The theory does not explain why the virus spread in China.
According to the conspiracy theory circulating on Facebook, the CDC patented the disease. However, upon further investigation, the Inquirer reports that the patents are for vaccines and other drugs made to combat various strains of coronavirus.
4. Doctors in Wuhan are projecting millions will be killed by the coronavirus.
There is no such projection made by any doctor in China.
5. A video of a market where the virus started.
A circulating video on Facebook shows a marketplace in Wuhan where the novel coronavirus purportedly originated. In the video, various wild and exotic animals such as rats, bats, and snakes are being sold. The video was not shot in China, but is AFP footage of the Langowan market in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province.
If you want to see the actual market in Wuhan, you can check out this CNN report: