Culture

We Debunked All The Lies Being Spread About Coronavirus

"Just reminding you that the coronavirus doesn’t give you an excuse to be a dick to Asian people."

coronavirus myths

If we know one thing about the internet era, it’s that fake news spreads faster than any virus ever could.

As the number of coronavirus patients increases so has the amount of myths, misinformation and outright lies, from the concerned (can I catch the virus from noodles?) to the outrageous (is the virus a weapon released by spies?).

At least 170 people have died from the coronavirus in China; it’s also spread to at least 16 other countries, including Australia.

We now have seven cases confirmed across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, with dozens others being investigated.

Here’s a what the facts you need to know and the fiction you don’t.

You Can’t Get Coronavirus From Mi Goreng Noodles Or Fortune Cookies

We’ll file this one under the category of “vaccines give you autism“.

As a general rule, don’t rely on internet randoms to give out medical advice. Health departments have enough to deal with right now without having to waste their time combatting fake news, so use your brain when sharing information, please and thank you.

Exhibit A:

Really, it should go without saying, but there is no such thing as the Department of Diseasology. IT’S NOT EVEN A WORD.

Here’s some basic facts for you. There are a bunch of different coronaviruses, ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses like MERS or SARS. They are respiratory illnesses, but the one that sprang up in China is a new coronavirus. More information is available on the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website here.

Because it’s a new virus scientists are still figuring a lot of stuff out, but respiratory illnesses like it are spread throughs coughs and sneezes. The CDC website explicitly says, “because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures”.

That means that no, you’re not going to catch it from eating Mi Goreng noodles.

Coronavirus Probably Won’t Kill You

There is still a lot we don’t know about the virus. Yes it’s serious, but the message is for people to stay alert, not alarmed.

So far, more than 100 people have tragically died in China, but it appears most of those had underlying health conditions that had already weakened their immune systems.

On January 27 the World Health Organisation said based on what they’ve seen so far about 4% of people who contract the disease die. This is lower than the 11% mortality rate of SARS (which killed 774 people in 2002-03) and the 35% rate of MERS (858 deaths in 2012).

Right now, there is no vaccine or antiviral treatment for coronavirus. Researchers in Australia and China have managed to grow the virus in a lab, which is the first step in developing a vaccine.

We know that people in Sydney, Melbourne and now the Gold Coast have the virus, so people should remember basic hygiene to minimise your risk of catching it. It’s all pretty basic stuff you should be doing anyway.

Symptoms of coronavirus include fevers, coughs, and shortness of breath, although there are some concerns it can be spread by people who are showing no symptoms. As a precaution, anyone who has recently returned from the Hubei province in China is being asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

You Don’t Need To Avoid Asian People, Racists

Yes, coronavirus is believed to have originated in a market in Wuhan, a city in central China. No, that does not mean that any random Asian person you see on the bus might have it.

Unless someone has specifically been to the Hubei province recently, or come into contact with someone who has, they won’t have it.

If you see anyone coughing or sneezing in public you should be avoiding them because germs are gross, not because of racial profiling.

That hasn’t stopped people from making jokes, because apparently people can’t help themselves.

Jokes may seem harmless, but they can lead to something more insidious. Today a man in Sydney’s Chinatown collapsed and died, and it’s being reported that no one performed CPR to save his life because of coronavirus concerns.

In a seperate Sydney incident a photo of a person who had collapsed was posted to social media, with the caption insinuating the person had the virus.

Strathfield Plaza this afternoon. We need to stop any flights from China immediately or quarantine them all for 14 days.

Posted by We Love Marrickville on Monday, January 27, 2020

Bat Soup Didn’t Cause A Disease Outbreak

Also under this category are claims that Chinese people are to blame for the virus because of what they eat.

Chinese influencer Wang Mengyun started getting death threats after this video of her eating a bat went viral. The thing is, that video was filmed for a travel show back in 2016 on the Micronesian island of Palau, where bats are a part of a normal diet. She’s since apologised anyway.

“Recently (the video) was turned over by some accounts sponging off the heat and fanning out malicious panic,” she posted on her blog.

“In the video, fruit bats are raised by local people, not wild ones. Many countries around the world eat this. It’s a daily dish in many countries, but it’s also a bat, can’t argue with that.”

Researchers are still confirming the origins of the disease, but so far signs point to the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market in Wuhan, a wet market that sells animals considered exotic by Western standards. Meat is sold alongside live animals in tightly packed conditions which makes it easier for viruses to jump from animals to humans. However, there are some early victims who had no contact with the market, so there are still question marks.

Regardless, so far it does appear the virus somehow made its way from bats to humans, but it’s unclear how. The consensus is that a bowl of bat soup isn’t to blame. It’s also worth keeping in mind that what is considered socially acceptable to eat is arbitrary from county to country, so let’s put the xenophobia back in its box, ok?

The Virus Isn’t A Biological Weapon

People love to fear-monger in times of crisis, but there’s no evidence for these claims.

Rumours have been circulating that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was secretly developing a biological weapon for the military. No health agency is backing that claim.

Another theory circulating claims that two Chinese scientists who were sacked from a Canadian lab last year were actually spies and smuggled the virus out of Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada has labelled that straight misinformation.

Like we said, the virus most likely originated from an unhygienic market.

The Chinese Aren’t Building Mass Graves

Nope. Actually, they’re building two massive new hospitals to cope with the crisis.

Images of the construction site has sparked theories that the government is digging mass graves in preparation for thousands of expected deaths.

In fact, they’re rushing to build two new hospitals which will treat thousands of coronavirus patients. You can watch a live stream of the construction here. They’ve been working around the clock and are expecting both hospitals to open within days.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and often it’s stuff that sounds almost plausible which goes viral. For the good of the internet, try to use some critical thinking whenever you see a new piece of information — especially if it’s being shared by your mother’s brother’s friend’s conspiracy-loving uncle.