Coronavirus: this false information that you may have seen on the Internet

Since the announcement at the beginning of January of the appearance of the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV in Wuhan in China, false information abound on the Internet.

According to Cristina Tardaguila, media specialist at the Poynter Institute, more than 50 fact-checking organizations in 30 countries have identified three “waves” of false information. One concerns the origins of the virus, another a false patent for medicines and a third how to prevent or treat it, “she explains.

Why it matters. Some of these “fake news” maintain prejudices linked to eating habits in China or racist stereotypes. They also complicate the work of caregivers and health authorities: for example, “in Taiwan, people will start calling their hospitals or government agencies, flooding them with questions and mobilizing precious human resources”, regrets Kevin Hsueh, a head of Cardinal Tien Hospital in Taipei.

No, bat videos do not show the origin of the epidemic

A video that has gone viral on the web shows a woman eating a bat with chopsticks. It was presented as proof that the taste of the Chinese for the consumption of exotic animals is at the origin of the epidemic – contact with wild animals had been recognized responsible for the appearance of SARS in 2002. Except that the images of this bat date from 2016, and were filmed in the Pacific archipelago of Palau.

Another video of a market where snakes, bats or rats are sold, claims that it is the market in Wuhan where the coronavirus originated. In fact, these scenes were filmed in Langowan, Indonesia.

In addition, even if the Chinese culinary tradition uses many ingredients which surprise elsewhere and if the sale of live animals on the markets worries, the bat is not often consumed in China.

No, there is no patent dated 2015 or 2003

One of the first false information to spread was about the existence of a vaccine against this new coronavirus which would have been patented in 2015.
In reality, the patent in question related to a coronavirus found in poultry and not transmissible to humans.

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Another “infox” circulating on social networks claims that the coronavirus was voluntarily created in the laboratory in the United States to sell a vaccine. The document supposed to constitute “proof” of the filing of a patent in 2003 “in fact concerns the coronavirus responsible for SARS from 2002”, and not 2019-nCoV, explain The Decoders. Who also note that a patent filing on a virus does not mean that the researchers are the “creators”.

No, there is no wacky “miracle” remedy

Use a hair dryer to disinfect the face and hands, use a saline solution, drink hot water at 60 degrees to stay healthy, ingest Dettol disinfectant … As many methods relayed for example in Hong Kong and in Australia, completely ineffective against coronavirus and which can even prove to be very dangerous.

To avoid contamination, apply basic hygiene measures: clean surfaces and wash hands thoroughly.

No, you will not be contaminated by a package from China

Some internet users who have ordered products made in China online have worried about possible contamination. Do not panic, you have very little chance of contracting the coronavirus in this way: “In view of the data available on the survival of coronaviruses in the outdoor environment (a few hours on dry inert surfaces) and taking into account the times and conditions of transport with China, the risk of being infected with nCoV by touching an object imported from China is considered to be extremely low “, says the French Ministry of Health.

No, wearing a mask does not protect you from coronavirus

Protective masks sold in pharmacies are recommended for people with symptoms of pneumonia and / or returning from China, so that they do not contaminate others. But they have no protective effect against the 2019-nCoV coronavirus.

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No, dating Asian people won’t make you sick

MP for Brisbane (Australia) warned constituents on Monday of a false press release allegedly from the Department of Health warning people of the risks of displacement in crowded suburbs Chinese origin. In Milan (Italy), mothers called on contact groups or Facebook pages to stay away from Chinese children and businesses for fear of the epidemic – discrimination denounced by members of the Chinese community in Italy.

In France, the keyword #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus appeared this week on Twitter, after numerous testimonies of racist behavior and to denounce the amalgams against Asian people. If you still doubt it, all Asian people are not Chinese and a person of Chinese origin is not necessarily contaminated by coronavirus …!

No, the virus does not spread “everywhere” in France

This week, screenshots appearing to emanate from the media, and reporting people with coronavirus treated in Argenteuil, Aix-les-Bains, Agen, Perpignan, Reims … were circulated in particular on Facebook. These are of course montages: for the time being, in France, there are only five confirmed cases, four of which are managed in Paris and one in Bordeaux.

AFP identified online some of this false information and reminds you of some simple advice so as not to be tricked: spot any spelling mistakes, find out if the original publication exists, check if the color and fonts are different from those usually used by the media. .. You can also check your newspaper to find out.

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