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Fake news on Covid-19 causing unnecessary panic

06 Apr 2020 at 18:48hrs | Views
Governments through out the world battle to tackle the biggest health emergency in a generation, as another pandemic gripped the world with fear. It is the pandemic of fake news on Corona virus. Would there be a way to prevent panic spreading through disinformation online?
The spread of false information during the coronavirus outbreak has been rapid with well-meaning friends and family sharing messages on messaging platforms including WhatsApp warning of everything from the Chinese waging a virus to control the world through G5 to beating the virus by drinking hot drinks or the old Malaria treatment

The fake news on Corona is not only annoying spam; it is a very dangerous way of spreading panic fear. The sad thing is the news which is fake spreads so fast. There was a lie making rounds which says that "If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, then you don't have the virus'

The claim: This long message began circulating early on in the crisis and the claims have been shared more than 30,000 times on Facebook in over a dozen countries, including ZIMBABWE India, Nigeria and the USA. The message contained several pieces of false information including fake advice on how to detect whether you have the virus, telling people to "breathe in deeply and hold your breath for 10 seconds."

It goes onto say: "If this can be done without coughing, without difficulty this shows that there is no fibrosis in the lungs, indicating the absence of infection. It is recommended to do this control every morning to help detect infection."

The message was usually forwarded from a friend citing a seemingly reliable source "Fibrosis is not a feature of coronavirus and you cannot tell... if you've got COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) you won't be able to hold your breath for 10 seconds anyway.
"And some people who have coronavirus the only symptom they've got is a fever and not a cough.

Another fake news was thatb "The virus spreads through petrol pumps"
The claim: This hoax social media message appeared on whatsapp The message claimed the virus was "spreading quickly via petrol pumps". It went on to say people should "wear gloves when filling up or use paper towel and bin straight away."

The truth: "A petrol pump is a hard surface," Dr Jarvis says.

"The handle of petrol pump is a hard surface. The best evidence we have, and we don't know, is that on average we think the virus can survive on a hard surface for up to three days, on metal or glass, possibly on plastic. Perhaps one day on cardboard.

"What that means if you touch a petrol pump that a lot of other people have touched before, in exactly the same way that if you've touched a ATM or if you touch a lift button or if you touch supermarket trolley. Yes, it can spread. But because it is a hard surface, you're not going to get it through the fumes."

Public Health England reiterated that on Monday with a statement that read: "Petrol pumps are no worse than other surfaces, although we do recommend people use gloves and wash their hands after using them."

Beat the virus with hot water
The claim: Another part of the message that encouraged us all to hold our breath for 10 seconds also claimed the virus "hates heat and dies if it is exposed of temperatures greater than 27C." It told us to "abundantly" consume hot drinks "such as infusions, broths or simply hot water" during the day.

"These hot liquids kill the virus and are easy to ingest," the viral message stated.
The truth: "Technically, the virus is destroyed by 60C but the virus, don't forget, lives in an awful lot of places where hot drinks don't get to, like the back of your nose," Dr Jarvis explains. "You also run the risk of scolding yourself."
A Tory MP has called on knowingly sharing false information to be an offence.

The Governments must start to make efforts to crack down on dangerously misleading information relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
Police must work extra hard to combat false and misleading narratives about coronavirus".

The danger of misinformation is that it undermines expert medical advice". Authorities must Work with social media companies, and press them for further action to stem the spread of falsehoods and rumours which could Be fatal. The Tory MP in England Damian Collins even called for it to be an offence to knowingly share fake news.

The Tory MP has partnered with Infotagion, a free-to-access website, which allows people to post screenshots of coronavirus-related information they have received online.

A lot of fake news has indeed caused panic and it does slow the fight against the virus.
Be responsible and do not send in fake news on Corona virus.

Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
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