By: David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Staff Writer

Maryland- In recent weeks news sites and social media has exploded with news of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19. With that comes the inevitable sharing of false images, articles, and memes about it. This also comes from individuals who purposely post inaccurate information or see something on social media and immediately sharing it without fact-checking.

Yes, the Novel Coronavirus is dangerous. At this time there is no cure. At this time the virus has spread globally, with several countries imposing closings on schools, and large gatherings. Going as far as to even quarantine a whole country. China has closed off the Hubei Province, effectively placing 50 million on lockdown.

Nations including Algeria, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Italy, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom have either evacuated citizens or plan to do so in the coming days. The types of accommodations for these evacuees vary widely. The United States and Italy have placed evacuees on military bases, while Canada has put them up in a motel.

Hong Kong and Japan, meanwhile, have quarantined entire cruise ships.

But even with all this information coming out, we need to stop the spread of false information. Below are some of the false facts coming out about Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19:

False: The novel coronavirus sickness is caused by 5G

On social media, some are pushing the idea that the novel coronavirus was caused by or can be linked to the deployment of 5G technology in Wuhan, China. There are several “strains” of this theory floating around online. One premise is that 5G technology can weaken the immune system and make the common cold more virulent. Another promotes the idea that 5G technology itself is causing the symptoms that have been attributed to the novel coronavirus. One version of the theory pushes the idea that the technology absorbs oxygen in the lungs, which “causes coronavirus.”

False: There’s a plot to “exterminate” people infected with the new coronavirus

On social media, some have floated the claim that China sought permission from the country’s Supreme Court to kill people infected with the novel coronavirus. Several fact-checkers, including Snopes, have determined these reports to be false and to have originated from a website with several “red flags.”

False: A coronavirus vaccine already exists

Another popular theory is that a vaccine for the novel coronavirus already exists, and some are even suggesting that the vaccine was previously patented. While researchers in several countries are working to develop a vaccine, no such vaccine has yet been developed, according to and Politifact. But this hasn’t stopped people from going online and claiming otherwise.

A recent post on Facebook claims that the coronavirus was a “set up” to sell vaccines and includes screenshots claiming to show a patent for a new vaccine. In this particular case, because Facebook’s fact-checkers verified the post as containing false information, a handful of “related articles” show up below the post, pointing users to verified sites that debunk the vaccine conspiracy theory. If you try to share the post, Facebook issues a warning stating that independent fact-checkers have said it contains false information.

Spraying chlorine or alcohol on skin kills viruses in the body

Applying alcohol or chlorine to the body can cause harm, especially if it enters the eyes or mouth. Although people can use these chemicals to disinfect surfaces, they should not use them on skin.

These products cannot kill viruses within the body.

Everyone with COVID-19 dies

This statement is untrue. As we have mentioned above, COVID-19 is only fatal for a small percentage of people.

In a recent report, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that 80.9% of COVID-19 cases were mild.

Face masks protect against coronavirus

Healthcare workers use professional face masks, which fit tightly around the face, to protect them against infection. However, disposable face masks are unlikely to provide such protection.

As these masks do not fit neatly against the face, droplets can still enter the mouth and nose. Also, tiny viral particles can penetrate directly through the material.

However, if someone has a respiratory illness, wearing a mask can help protect others from becoming infected.

“There is very little evidence that wearing such masks protects the wearer from infection,” Dr. Ben Killingley, Consultant in Acute Medicine and Infectious Diseases at University College London Hospital in the U.K., explains.

“Furthermore, wearing masks can give a false sense of reassurance and might lead to other infection control practices being ignored, e.g., hand hygiene.”

The WHO recommend that people who are caring for someone with suspected COVID-19 should wear a mask. In these cases, wearing a mask is only effective if the individual regularly washes their hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Also, when using a mask, it is important to use it and dispose of it properly

Home remedies can cure and protect against COVID-19

No home remedies can protect against COVID-19, including vitamin C, essential oils, silver colloid, sesame oil, garlic, and sipping water every 15 minutes.

The best approach is to adopt a good handwashing regimen and to avoid places where there may be unwell people.

Coronavirus is the deadliest virus known to man

Although SARS-CoV-2 does appear to be more serious than influenza, it is not the deadliest virus that people have faced. Others, such as Ebola, have higher mortality rates.

This is not an exhaustive list, but some examples. Please fact-check your posts before sharing them. Misinformation is much more dangerous nowadays due to social media. False facts can go viral in seconds.

Consider the following questions before sharing dubious content:

  • Is this the original account, article or piece of content?
  • Who shared this or created it?
  • When was this created?
  • What account is sharing this?
  • When was the account created?
  • Do they share things from all over the world at all times during the day and night?
  • Could this be a bot?
  • Why was this shared?

It’s important to remember that the creators of disinformation purposely make content that is designed to trigger an emotional response and to avoid those pitfalls if possible.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...