COVID 19 Pandemic: Fake News Factory working overnight

Several vibrant cities of the world are facing lockdown and industries are shut. However, the fake news factory is working overnight. The infodemic on COVID 19 is equally dangerous. Here we make you aware of some of the fake news being circulated on social media.

Siddheshwar  ShuklaSiddheshwar Shukla | Updated: 26-03-2020 16:03 IST | Created: 25-03-2020 00:37 IST
COVID 19 Pandemic: Fake News Factory working overnight
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI
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Novel Coronavirus (COVID 19) is undoubtedly the most contagious virus, so far. It is spreading so fast that it has taken almost all the countries of the world into its grip. However, the fake news items on Coronavirus seem to be spreading faster than the pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called it infodemic and cautioned the nations to be prepared to fight COVID 19 on two fronts – pandemic and Infodemic, simultaneously.

You may be receiving several messages on social media from your friends and relatives and sharing them further. All may not have malafide intention but a genuine sense of care and well-being. What if those messages harm your friends and relatives? Here we present you an analysis of some of the messages being prominently circulated on social media. Besides making you aware of those fake messages, they will also enhance your analytical skills in analyzing fake news items in all forms - textual, pictorial and video. 

Hantavirus: New Virus released by China? 

The news of a casualty from  Hantavirus came from China on March 24. In the news flashed by China's Global Media, it was reported that a person died of Hantavirus in a bus while 32 co-passengers were also tested positive. 

As the news was broken, speculations were made on social media that it was a new virus outbreak in China. Within a fraction of time, social media was abuzz with the fake news related to the Hantavirus. After investigation, it was found that the news was true but the speculations were false. The Hantaviruses are previously known family of viruses which infect rodents but does not cause diseases in them. The virus infects humans if they come in contact with urine and faeces of rats and other similar animals. It is also known in the United States, the Americas, Europe, and Asian countries as well. According to the United States' Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via an aerosolized virus that is shed in urine, faeces, and saliva, and less frequently by a bite from an infected host. The most important hantavirus in the United States that can cause HPS is the Sin Nombre virus, spread by the deer mouse.

Does clapping kill Coronavirus?

The claims and counterclaims on whether clapping kills or will not kill coronavirus are rife in India after the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a call to clap for 5 minutes at 5.00 pm on the day of Janata Curfew on Sunday, March 22, 2020.

Though the message was to express gratitude to doctors and security forces fighting against the COVID 19, his party workers and followers circulated it as a measure to kill the virus. Prime Minister also didn't take any corrective measures to prevent it from being considered a festival of clapping by the public. Some of his party leaders along with administrative officers even organized roadshow. Finally, the Janata Curfew failed to achieve the objectives. There have been several fake news on social media about the Janata Curfew. The critics are also alleging that the Prime Ministers' message of 14 hours of Janata Curfew had misled the people of the country. 

There is no evidence that synchronized clapping by masses, bell sounds or sound waves of any other kind can kill the Coronavirus. 

COVID 19 is a Chinese Bio-warfare weapon?

Until perceived as a piece of fake news, this information has now taken the form of a Class Action Lawsuit in a district of the USA. Though allegations of bio-warfare were being made against China since the outbreak of the disease in Wuhan, this is the first time the legal actions are being sought against China for causing the spread of the Coronavirus. 

Now, these allegations are likely to be investigated in the court of law despite the legal immunity to China. There are several opinion pieces authored in the US publications arguing that China should be held legally responsible for causing the outbreak of COVID 19. According to an opinion published in the War on the Rocks, China could be made legally responsible to pay trillions as damages. Besides, in an opinion piece published in the Fox News, the author has strongly recommended holding China responsible for the pandemic. 

A petition has also been filed against the Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong in a district court of Bihar for manufacturing the COVID 19 in a lab in Wuhan for mass destruction and emerge as a "superpower". However, the complaint is based on a novel by Dean Koontz titled The Eyes of Darkness published in 1981. It was scheduled to be heard on March 24.  

Holding breath for 10 seconds is no test of coronavirus

Initially, it was reported that coronavirus primarily infects the lungs, the fake news came in circulation that if you hold your breath for 10 seconds you are free from infection.

However, it was found that several young patients suffering from the disease in the US were able to hold their breath for more than 10 seconds. In fact, this is an initial examination of Fibrosis, lung diseases. The fake news creators went on to the extent of crediting the recommendation to Sanford University which finally issued a clarification to falsify the misinformation.

However, the fake news is still in circulation in India and several other countries. The practice of the breathing exercises has been proved beneficial for the health of the lungs and improving immunity, however, holding breath is no test to confirm coronavirus. India's premier research institute Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, has announced to have made a breakthrough in making affordable testing kits for COVID 19

No. You can’t make home sanitizer to kill COVID 19

There are various messages and techniques circulating on social media to make homemade sanitizers. However, the truth is that you can’t make home-based sanitizers to kill Coronavirus at home. This is because the sanitizer should have 60-70 percent alcohol. However, even Vodka and all other prime wines have alcohol content in the range of about 40 percent or less.

The best way to make your hands safe is to wash them with soap for 20 seconds. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi has announced to have made laboratory sanitizer.

No. There is no medicine or vaccine for COVID 19 

Several messages and videos are being circulated on social media with a claim that the prescription cures COVID 19. However, the truth is that there is no medicine or drug or herbal formulation or vaccine to cure the COVID 19 infection. 

The market for fake news is very high on COVID 19. According to a report of CNN, the US President Donald Trump himself made 33 false claims on COVID 19. According to Jeff Hancock Professor of Communication at the Stanford University of the USA, uncertainty about the novel coronavirus can lead them to believe misinformation. 

For more fake news related to the COVID 19, please visit Conspiracy theories on COVID 19: Legislators, Scientists, and Journalists all joined the Caravan

Also Read: Vaccines, Medicines, and Treatments for COVID 19: Rumors versus Reality

Also Read: Why COVID 19 is so dangerous despite the low mortality rate?

Also, visit Live Discourse on Coronavirus Pandemic: Let’s join the global fight against COVID 19 with Devdiscourse.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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