The 2019 novel coronavirus (n-Cov) now has 43,112 confirmed cases and a rising death toll most recently recorded at 1,108. It has spread from China to surrounding places in Asia and some countries in the West, with the World Health Organization deeming it a global emergency. And with no vaccine coming in the near future, fear-mongering has become commonplace among people in areas with infected patients.
The scare has caused a recent surge in coronavirus news, which clout-chasers are now taking advantage of through misinformation. It’s gotten so serious that social media companies and governments are now actively cracking down on coronavirus-related fake news. Some are so obviously untrue that we can’t help but laugh, while others have unexpectedly serious consequences. Below, are some of the most absurd ones that have gone viral amid the actual virus outbreak.
It turns you into a zombie
In Malaysia, rumours spread that the coronavirus will make you act like a zombie. Yes, the monsters with a penchant for braaains. Apparently, The Walking Dead-esque theory became so popular that the country’s Health Ministry had to publicly dismiss it, saying in a tweet: “The claim that individuals infected with this virus will behave like zombies is not true … Patients can recover.”
Good to know, man. Good to know.
A toilet paper shortage in Hong Kong
Viral on messaging app WhatsApp in Hong Kong was a memo, supposedly from the local supermarket chain Wellcome, stating that toilet paper production had been suspended because of factory closures in mainland China. Afraid of running out, many proceeded to hoard packs and packs of the bathroom staple, leading to many empty grocery shelves.
It turns out, however, that the panic was all for nothing. In a statement, the Hong Kong government condemned “rumour mongers with evil intentions” and expressed regret over “the malicious act” of spreading false news of a toilet paper shortage.
A Wellcome spokesperson also told local newspaper Apple Daily that they are committed to providing “a sufficient and diversified choice of products for our customers.”
People dying in the streets
Since the nCov outbreak started in December 2019, there have been multiple stories of people randomly dropping dead on the street. Most of the time though, these incidents don’t actually have anything to do with the coronavirus.
In the Philippines, photos of a Korean tourist lying on the street went viral after people thought that he was Chinese and had contracted the coronavirus. It turned out that the guy was just plastered as hell after a night out.
Meanwhile, a Filipino vlogger actually thought it would be funny to fake-faint in a shopping mall amid the coronavirus scare. No one laughed and instead of gaining fans, he was forced to issue a public apology after receiving flak online.
Some of these rumours are just downright irresponsible. Twitter user @AwStatistics claimed that “people are literally dying on the streets of China,” a statement that was never verified. The tweet has since been deleted.
Drinking bleach will cure you
Ah, the QAnon promoters are at it again. Supporters of the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory actually encouraged their supporters to ward off the illness by drinking bleach, The Daily Beast reported. The substance, which they refer to as “Miracle Mineral Solution,” has long been promoted by fringe groups as a cure or vaccine for everything from autism to cancer and HIV/AIDS. While it could probably clean your insides, it will most definitely poison you too.
The United States’ Food and Drug Administration has again warned against drinking the substance, calling it a “dangerous bleach” that could cause “severe vomiting” and “acute liver failure.”
Coronavirus was funded by Bill Gates and the World Health Organization
Some actually claim that Bill Gates “planned” the coronavirus outbreak. Yeah, seriously.
Twitter user @Jordan_Sather_ said that The Bill Gates and Melinda Foundation, in partnership with the World Health Organization, filed a patent for the coronavirus vaccine in 2015 that was approved in 2018. He even shared documents that supposedly supported the ridiculous claim. However, the papers obviously show that the patent filed was for potential vaccine development that only covered the avian strain of coronavirus that only affects birds, Buzzfeed News reported.
The sad part is, some people actually believe this, or at least love to troll and pretend that they do, even though there’s no evidence supporting the claim.
Changing your diet will protect you from the virus
Apparently, some people also believe that avoiding cold drinks such as milkshakes and ice cream can help prevent the disease. Others, on the other hand, think eating spicy food can help protect them from infection. These claims are spreading on social media platform TikTok, likely because there are legitimate theories that the outbreak is linked to the cold winter weather. But Harvard Health said that changing one’s diet won’t really do much and called the tips “useless.”
The moral of the story? Don’t get medical advice from TikTok.