Fake news alert: Coronavirus will not invade your body within 10 minutes if you do not quench your thirst

2020-01-29 20:52
Passengers who just arrived on a train from Wuhan, China are screened for coronavirus in Beijing.

Passengers who just arrived on a train from Wuhan, China are screened for coronavirus in Beijing. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

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Eating spicy food and dehydration will not make you more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus, despite false messages circulating on social media.

For this reason, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) warned the public about fake news circulating on social media, saying it caused unnecessary panic and anxiety.

"There is no confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in South Africa," the NCID's Sinenhlanhla Jimoh told News24.

"If the information about the coronavirus does not have the NICD and DOH [the Department of Health] logo it should be verified. Our website is www.nicd.ac.za and all updates about the virus will be on it."

Messages circulating on WhatsApp have given false information about the virus, alleging that "holding your thirst" would allow "the virus [to] invade your body within 10 minutes".

These false messages further warn people that until the end of March "do not go to crowded places, wear masks as needed, especially on trains or public transportation, avoid fried or spicy food and load up on vitamin C".

Another message warns people to "stay away from China Mall", as the owners of the shops have all gone to China to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

"They are returning, and some are bringing along the coronavirus," the message says.

READ | SA establishes specialised task team to prevent spread of coronavirus to SA

But a pamphlet by the NICD maintains that no cases of the virus have been reported in South Africa, adding "infections in travellers outside China have not resulted in outbreaks in other countries".

While active surveillance mechanisms are in place to identify any cases of the virus, symptoms include respiratory illnesses, like coughing, fever and shortness of breath 14 days after a person has travelled to a country where the coronavirus is known to be circulating.

In this case, these people "should seek medical care early and share information about their travel history with their doctors", the NICD said, adding the virus was passed on from person to person and was similar to the flu and "it is thought to happen mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes".

"Thus far, the majority of cases have occurred in people with close physical contact to cases and healthcare workers caring for patients with 2019-nCoV," the NICD said.

While there is no vaccine or antiviral treatment available for the virus, "supportive treatment" is administered, including providing oxygen for patients with shortness of breath.

To prevent contracting the virus, the NICD recommends washing your hands with soap, avoiding contact with people who are sick, avoiding others if you are sick, covering your coughs or sneezes with your elbow and avoiding contact with farm or wild animals, animal markets and uncooked meat.

"Fever screening is in place at international airports. If there is a suspected case, procedures are in place for case isolation and management as well as rapid specimen collection and transport so that the diagnosis can quickly be made.

"Suspected cases will be managed at designated hospitals with isolation facilities. Protocols are in place to follow up on case contacts to ensure that the virus does not spread," the NICD said.

It has also warned people that non-essential travel to Hubei and Guangdong provinces in China should be avoided.

"South African citizens are permitted to travel to China, and there are no further restrictions of trade or travel at this time," the NCID said.

Instead of relying on messages circulating on social media, visit the NICD website for reliable information on the virus.

Read more on:    nicd  |  coronavirus  |  fake news  |  health
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