With nearly 1 lakh infections and 3,200 deaths, the outbreak of coronavirus has created a sense of panic worldwide.
In India, the number of cases is 31 but the country is already preparing to defend itself by closing schools/offices.
And, like always some of us are busy sharing outbreak-related information on WhatsApp. But the problem is, several such messages can be completely false, misleading.
WhatsApp is not new to misinformation; fake news and hoaxes have plagued the platform for years, even led to violence in some cases.
But, over the last few weeks, the panic around coronavirus has pushed Indians to learn and share anything and everything about the infection.
This has allowed fake, potentially harmful, misinformation about the disease to flourish on the messaging service.
One fake message cites UNICEF and says that the virus doesn't transmit through the air.
Now, this is completely wrong, given that scientists have confirmed that the virus can spread through respiratory droplets in the air.
The same message also says that drinking hot water and spending time in sunlight's warmth can kill the virus, which is also not true or verified by scientists.
Another fake message doing the rounds claims that a Chinese doctor has found that drinking a bowl of boiled garlic water can be the cure for coronavirus.
However, WHO has clearly stated that there is no scientific evidence that indicates eating garlic can prevent or cure coronavirus infection.
The only prevention is basic hygiene, washing hands and the cure is resting and getting quarantined.
One fake message claims that the virus thrives in dry, parched mouths and drinking water every 15 minutes can help prevent infection.
But, again, that is not true and there is no scientific evidence that shows water kills coronavirus.
It can only hydrate your body and lower the risk of contraction - if used for washing hands.
Just like the case of garlic water, another message says that avoiding cold food items and drinks can keep you safe from coronavirus.
This has also not been proven and there is no study that shows coronavirus cannot proliferate in cold regions. In fact, it has had major outbreaks in cooler regions of South Korea and Italy.
Other fake messages you should not trust include those saying Vitamin C can kill the virus, dry cough without a runny nose is a symptom of infection, and wearing a normal surgical mask in a specific way can provide complete protection from the disease.
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