As of February 15, 2020, coronavirus has infected 67,091 people and killed 1,526. However, misconceptions about the deadly virus are doing more harm than good in curbing the spread of the infection. Coronavirus myths are being circulated on popular media websites as well as social media platforms. And as would be expected, some of these false reports are targeted at a particular race.
For this reason, Facebook, Twitter, and concerned media outlets have taken measures to curb the spread of these misconceptions. Users of these platforms have been presented with several measures that will enable them to detect fake news about coronavirus, and what's true.
People have also been cautioned not to believe just about anything that is being circulated. They have been advised to take the extra step in sourcing for the right information from legit platforms like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Media Website Claims 2 Million People Have Been Killed
Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE reports that as of February 15, 2020, coronavirus has killed 1,526 people. But before this time, a rumour had emerged from a media outlet that as of January 23, 2020, coronavirus killed 112,000 people. Also, the media alleged that 2.8 million people were infected by the deadly virus. Nonetheless, Lead Stories, a third-party fact-checker has debunked the media outlet's claim.
Racist Publication Warns Australians to Avoid Chinese Populated Areas
A media outlet also publicized warning people to stay away from certain regions in Australia populated by the Chinese. While the news is purported to originate from the Queensland Department of Health, the state has debunked the news claiming that it is false. According to Queensland MP, Stretton Duncan Pegg, the news is 100% fake.
Misinformation About Bat Soup Spreading Corona Virus
Another misinformation that is spreading around the internet, is that coronavirus may be caused by contaminated bat soup. However, this is not known for sure since scientists are yet to confirm the specific animal that causes coronavirus. Likewise, Wuhan, a market in China, where the virus was first discovered, is a meat and seafood market where bats and snakes are also sold.
False Claims of a Vaccine
Whether it is to make light of what is happening, several individuals have advised that people drink bleach to avoid coronavirus. Others have also advised that garlic be taken. However, WHO says it has not been confirmed that garlic can cure coronavirus.
On the other hand, there is currently no known vaccine for coronavirus. However, it is speculated that it could take months or even years for a vaccine to be found since this is a new virus.
Facebook and Twitter Make Attempts to Curb Misinformation
Social media giants Facebook and Twitter are also making attempts to curb the spread of false information about coronavirus. Facebook, for instance, has hired three third-party fact-checking organizations that will help to spot out fake news about coronavirus on the platform. These organizations will also help to display warning labels on fake information to alert users.
Twitter, on the other hand, revealed that over 15 million Tweets have been made about coronavirus in the past 4 weeks and that these tweets may increase. As such, it brings about the need to ensure that users of the platform are only fed with the right information. Accordingly, the platform redirects people to visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when searches for coronavirus are made.
According to Twitter:
"We’ve launched a new dedicated search prompt to ensure that when you come to the service for information about the #coronavirus, you’re met with credible, authoritative information first."
Coronavirus Spreads, Reaches Africa for the First Time
Coronavirus has spread to several countries including the U.S, Germany, Australia, Japan, Finland, France, the UK, Malaysia, etc. Egypt, a country in Africa has reported its first case of coronavirus. As such, this is also the first case of coronavirus in the continent.
Due to the epidemic, several local and international businesses have had to slow down meetings in certain regions. Facebook, for instance, cancelled its marketing summit slated for March this year. The summit was expected to draw 4,000 people. Similarly, IBM has withdrawn from attending the RSA Conference slated for February 24.
Foxconn, a manufacturer of Apple's iPhone intends to make two million surgical masks daily. According to the company, it will also rely on a new generation of infrared temperature measurement equipment that will help to detect individuals with coronavirus in its facilities.