In this week’s roundup of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week, we focus on false and misleading reports spreading online around the new coronavirus outbreak, a situation the World Health Organization has dubbed an “infodemic.”
Here are some of the claims spreading online, and the facts you need to know about them.
ClaimThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people shave off facial hair to protect against the new coronavirus.
The factsReports that the CDC published an infographic recommending that men shave their beards to protect against the coronavirus circulated widely as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased to 60 in the U.S. The CDC did not release this graphic in relation to preventing the new coronavirus, nor did the agency recommend that people shave off their facial hair to protect against it.
The graphic dates to 2017 and depicts the types of facial hair that do and do not work well when wearing filtering facepiece respirators. Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the CDC, told the AP in an email that the graphic “was developed several years ago and is intended for professionals who wear respirators for worker protection. CDC does not recommend the routine use of respirators outside of workplace settings (in the community).”
ClaimEveryone should ensure that their mouth and throat is moist and never dry. Take sips of water every 15 minutes because even if the virus gets into your mouth by drinking water or liquids, it will wash the virus down through your esophagus and into your stomach where your stomach acid will kill the virus.
The factsDrinking water prevents dehydration but will not prevent anyone from catching the new coronavirus. Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious-diseases expert at Vanderbilt University, said the claims are incorrect.
While medical professionals typically recommend keeping up fluid intake, Schaffner said drinking more water will not keep anyone from catching the virus.
“We always caution anyone healthy and people who are sick to keep up fluid intake and keep mucus membranes moist,” he said. “It makes you feel better; there is no clear indication that it directly protects you against complications.”
ClaimGarlic can help cure the new coronavirus.
The factsThere is no evidence that garlic cures the virus. While garlic does have antimicrobial properties, WHO said that there is no evidence that eating garlic will help with the virus.