Coronavirus hoax viral on WhatsApp; claims garlic can cure disease
Adding to the growing threat of a coronavirus outbreak, a false cure is being circulated on the messaging app WhatsApp. The scam message claims that an "old Chinese doctor's" treatment involving boiled garlic water can cure the disease. Only last week, the World Health Organization had termed the fake news around the outbreak an "infodemic." Here are more details.
The viral WhatsApp hoax states, "Pass it please. Good news, Wuhan's corona virus can be cured by one bowl of freshly boiled garlic water." It specifies boiling eight cloves of garlic in seven cups of water. The treatment claims to provide "overnight improvement and healing." The scam message adds that an "old Chinese doctor" and "many patients" have found this treatment to be effective.
In truth, the current coronavirus outbreak involves a new strain, called SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). Since it is a new strain, there is no specific treatment, medicine or vaccine for the virus. Health professionals have, however, been treating symptoms in patients while the immune system fights the virus. Scientists have also been scrambling to develop specified treatment and vaccines.
Taking cognizance of the many hoaxes around the viral outbreak, the WHO sat down with tech giants in Silicon Valley. Digital business solutions manager at WHO, Andrew Pattison, reportedly said the fake news was "spreading faster than the virus." On Thursday, Pattinson held a meeting with tech companies at Facebook's Mountain View headquarters with representatives from Google, Apple, Airbnb, Lyft, Uber and Salesforce.
Pattinson also held talks with Amazon at the firm's Seattle headquarters earlier this week. Meanwhile, some social media platforms have already started taking steps to combat fake news. Searching "coronavirus" on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok now directs users to WHO or local health organizations.
The SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in Wuhan in China's Hubei province. The virus was initially termed 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The virus impacts a host's respiratory system, causing flu-like symptoms. In severe cases, it may result in pneumonia, multiple organ failure or death. The outbreak has killed 1,874 people and sickened over 73,000 globally. The disease caused by the virus has been termed COVID-19.
Since the onset of the viral outbreak, many have made racist claims that it originated from Chinese eating habits, circulating videos of a woman eating bat soup. India's own AYUSH Ministry claimed last month that traditional medicine such as homeopathy, Unani and Ayurveda can cure the disease. Videos claiming that controversial godman Swami Nithyananda can cure the virus were also circulated.