The world is fighting against two things right now: the coronavirus and fake news about it.
Since the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) was first recorded in Wuhan, we’ve seen false claims that it’s a bioweapon and a population control scheme. Right now with the rise in COVID-19 cases worldwide, the misinformation now comes in the form of health tips.
What I noticed is that these tips are obviously fake because of how outrageous they are, while others claim they’re medical professionals with knowledge on how to handle the situation. The latter is a bit tricky because some of them seem legit, but you’re still skeptical because of the culture of fake news.
Last week, a friend shared a post claiming that Japanese doctors advise people to drink water every 15 minutes to prevent nCoV from entering your windpipe and lungs. It also advised people to hold their breath to check for chest pains. Snopes debunked this claim, citing that there is no evidence from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other medical professionals to support this.
There’s also a claim that masturbation and orgasms can allegedly boost the immune system. Advocate cited studies on men having lower risk of getting prostate cancer after achieving orgasm, while Big Think mentioned how masturbation can help with pain relief. Of course, this shouldn’t be used as an alternative to professional medicine.
Apart from fake medical advice, a fake Department of Health (DOH) update urging people to “stock on ready-to-eat food due to imminent lockdown in Metro Manila” also went viral. DOH said on Twitter that they never put out such announcements. But whether people read this notice or not, the panic buying (read: hoarding) of hand sanitizers, alcohol, face masks and non-perishable food is already happening.
Fake content alert! ⚠️
DOH is NOT instructing people to stock on ready-to-eat food due to alleged imminent lockdown in Metro Manila.
In a time like this, we can’t afford to spread fake news and incite panic. The last thing anyone wants is for people to act out of fear and not think rationally amid this global pandemic. When we see photos of supply hoarders, we can’t help but think of the vulnerable people who actually need it like children, the elderly and people with underlying diseases.
Take note that majority of the confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths are people aged 60 to 80+. They need protection from the virus more than you do, perfectly healthy person who’s hoarding all the hand sanitizer.
Likewise, we’ve seen advice from doctors and people who claim to be in the medical field, as well as articles citing studies backing their claims. For example, Doctor Mike posted a YouTube video fact-checking information on the coronavirus. He mentioned the possibility of COVID-19 going away during summer, but remember that there’s still no proof of this since this is a new form of coronavirus.
I’ve also seen medical advice on Facebook and Twitter about spotting COVID-19 symptoms and when to get tested. Despite the netizens claiming to be professionals, it’s still important to verify information via WHO, DOH, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you’re getting most of your news and information online, always remember to take them with a grain of salt. Don’t instantly believe what you read and look for other sources to confirm what you’ve read or heard. You don’t want to spread misinformation on social media and cause panic among your peers. We’re also not discrediting those who continue to give out helpful and accurate advice to prevent the coronavirus spread.
Let’s all help each other out, especially those affected by community quarantines in their respective cities and countries.