Debunking Coronavirus Rumours

There are a number of rumours and a certain amount of misinformation circulating among migrants about COVID-19. To help you make the right choices we’ve listed the most common misunderstandings so that you can stay informed and protect yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information and clarifications on common rumours circulating about COVID-19 visit the World Health Organization myth busting site.

Rumour: COVID-19 was purposely created in a Chinese lab.

One of the recurring rumours being spread online is that COVID-19 was engineered in a Chinese lab. This is false. Scientific evidence shows that the virus is naturally occurring. It originally came from animals and subsequently infected humans. According to a US study, the genome sequence proves that it is not man-made. Like most parts of the globe China has also been badly affected by the virus with more than 83,000 cases (as of 21 May 2020) and over 4,600 deaths.

Rumour: The COVID-19 pandemic is fake.

There are rumours circulating on social media that COVID-19 is a hoax. Amongst the reasons that people deny the existence of the pandemic is the belief that the virus was created by China or Russia to grab more power and wealth. This claim is false – COVID-19 does exist. Scientific evidence proves that the virus originally came from animals and subsequently infected humans. Official statistics from the World Health Organization show that the virus has infected millions of people around the world.

Rumour: The virus cannot survive in hot weather.

Another theory is that COVID-19 cannot survive in warmer climates such as Africa. The World Health Organization says the virus can be transmitted anywhere, even countries with hot and humid weather. There has also been a surge in coronavirus cases in tropical countries including Saudi Arabia and much of Southeast Asia. There is also no evidence that exposing yourself to a prolonged period of sunlight kills the virus. Experts say temperatures have to be higher than 140 degrees Fahrenheit to kill this virus.

Rumour: Governments are withholding the actual number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

News reports suggest that it is highly likely that some countries are under-reporting both the total cases and the number of deaths from COVID-19. In countries that do not have adequate systems or capacity to test properly, it can be hard to verify the exact death toll from COVID-19. For accurate advice on the global situation, the World Health Organization and The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) publish daily statistics on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rumour: The COVID-19 pandemic is being used by corrupt governments to stockpile money and deny citizens their basic human rights.

Some people claim the COVID-19 pandemic is part of a government propaganda campaign to avoid paying peoples’ salaries and under invest in public services. In reality, COVID-19 has required governments around the world to invest heavily and become indebted in order to maintain wages, basic services and safe-guard healthcare. COVID-19 represents an existential threat to the global status quo as well as a risk to every single person’s health.

Rumour: Some Nigerians believe COVID-19 is a judgement from God targeting the country’s elite and politicians

In Nigeria, rumours are circulating that COVID-19 is a plague specifically targeting the country’s elite and is God’s way of bringing about changes to their government. This is unlikely as COVID-19 has been shown to infect without prejudice. It is as dangerous for the rich as it is for the poor, and those from disadvantaged communities – where social distancing is impossible – are equally at risk. Social class has been shown to have no bearing on who is infected by this disease though there is some evidence that social class and economic background will impact whether you survive or not.

Rumour: Africans are immune to the virus

In some countries, such as Nigeria, rumours are spreading that people are immune to the virus. This is not true. Research from the World Health Organization shows that nearly 200,000 people in Africa are at risk of dying from COVID-19 if it’s not controlled. Overall COVID-19 seems to spread more slowly in Africa compared to other countries due to the youthful population and lower levels of obesity, according to research from the WHO.

Rumour: The rich have a cure for COVID-19.

At present, there is no cure for COVID-19. Scientists around the world are currently working on a number of vaccines and treatments. The only way to slow transmission is to follow the World Health Organization advice including frequently washing your hands and maintaining social distancing.

Rumour: Herbal home remedies can cure or prevent COVID-19.

There is no evidence that herbal concoctions, such as garlic or drinking salt water, will cure COVID-19. While some herbal remedies can have other health benefits, there is currently no cure for COVID-19. The safest way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is by following advice from the World Health Organization including frequent hand washing and practicing social distancing

Rumour: Drinking or injecting methanol, ethanol or bleach can kill the virus.

Injecting or drinking harmful substances such as bleach or methanol or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol does not kill the virus and can have serious consequences and even lead to death. For example, in Iran nearly 300 people died after becoming ill from drinking methanol amid false rumours that it can cure the virus. There are a number of drug trials underway to find a cure for COVID-19. The safest way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is by following advice from the World Health Organization including frequent hand washing and practicing social distancing.

Rumour: Wearing a face mask stops you from getting COVID-19.

Face masks do not stop you from catching the virus but prevent the virus from spreading further by blocking droplets from coughs and sneezes. Many countries have made wearing face masks compulsory to slow the spread of the disease. Face masks play an important role in preventing the spread of the virus along with frequent hand washing and practicing social distancing.

Rumour: Catching COVID-19 is no worse than the common cold and flu.

COVID-19 is extremely serious and has a much higher mortality rate than the seasonal flu. Hundreds of thousands of people around the globe have died from COVID-19. While some people who catch the virus may experience mild or moderate symptoms, others experience severe symptoms including breathing difficulties and need to be hospitalised. Older people and those with respiratory systems are more at risk but COVID-19 can also affect younger people.

Rumour: COVID-19 is airborne.

Scientific experts believe that COVID-19 is predominantly spread through droplets and is rarely transmitted through tiny particles of liquid and material that float around in our environment. According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through droplets from coughs, sneezes and people talking or from droplets that settle on surface areas and spread through human contact.

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