Coronavirus: Fake news infects internet; govt asks people not to fall prey

Chennai: Ever since the news of Coronavirus contraction broke out, fake news is riding on social media dispelling unclaimed facts. When a serious issue breaks, misinformation does its job and eventually people fall prey to it, circulate and the drill continues.

One fake news alleges that the Ministry of Health has given an emergency notification to the public on the ‘Coronavirus influenza outbreak’. The sender, who apparently is President NFMC, advises maintaining a moist throat and not letting it dry up. “Thus, do not hold your thirst because once your membrane in your throat is dried, the virus will invade into your body within 10 minutes,” it claimed.

However, fact-checking the information with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare website, shows that the government has given a travel advisory and has suggested to avoid non-essential trips to China following the rise of total cases and deaths. Further, in the guidelines issued by the Ministry there is no mention of having a moist throat.
Advising travellers, the notification listed that they should observe good personal hygiene, practice frequent hand washing with soap, follow respiratory etiquettes – cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing and avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness, such as cough or runny nose.

In the ‘National guidelines for infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities’ document that does not mention maintaining a ‘moist throat’ and details management of infectious diseases. 011-23978046 is the toll-free number to dial in case any person with Coronavirus symptom is identified.

Secondly, claiming that the illness can be ‘cured’, another false message advising to consume 50 gm paste of neem and Phyllanthus niruri (Keezhanelli) in empty stomach. Interestingly, the AYUSH Ministry has issued an advisory about the medicines that ‘could be effective in the prevention of novel coronavirus (nCoV) infections’ and not ‘cure’. The World Health Organisation has stated that there is no vaccine found thus far to cure the illness.

“The Ministry of AYUSH is issuing the advisory as preventive measure and not claiming to be a treatment advice for the nCoV infection. The Research Councils under Ministry of AYUSH are involved in various public health activities and provide lifestyle advocacies time to time for the general public,” the Ministry said in a statement.

The board has recommended that homoeopathic medicine ‘Arsenicum album 30’ could be taken empty stomach daily for three days as a preventive medicine against the infection.

Lisitng another ayurvedic concoction, the statement said, “Drink Shadang Paniya (Musta, Parpat, Usheer, Chandan, Udeechya and Nagar) processed water (10 gm powder boiled in 1-litre water, until it reduces to half). Store it in a bottle and drink it when thirsty. Agastya Harityaki 5 gm, twice a day with warm water, Samshamani Vati 500 mg twice a day, Trikatu (Pippali, Marich and Shunthi) powder 5 gm and Tulasi 3-5 leaves (boiled in 1-litre water, until it reduces to œ liter and keep it in a bottle) keep taking it in sips as and when required. Pratimarsa Nasya: Instill two drops of Anu taila/Sesame oil in each nostril daily in the morning.”

There is no mention of the neem and keezhanelli paste as given in the message which proves that the viral alert is fake.
While these are just a few messages that we have fact-checked, there are zillions of videos and posts doing rounds. The government is repeatedly emphasising on not falling prey and confirm with a physician before trying home remedies or buying medicines off the counter.

Bhavani Prabhakar