WebQoof Recap: From COVID-19 Being Airborne to Misleading Cures

Here’s a quick round-up of all the WhatsApp forwards and fake tweets that misled the public this week.

6 min read
A vast amount of misinformation around COVID-19 has been doing the rounds lately, from Kanika Kapoor infecting Prince Charles to the WHO saying that the virus remains in the air upto 8 hours.

A massive amount of misinformation about COVID-19 has been doing the rounds lately, from Kanika Kapoor infecting Prince Charles to the WHO saying the virus remains in the air for up to 8 hours.

Here’s a quick round-up of the WhatsApp forwards and fake tweets that misled the public this week.

1. Does Coronavirus Remain in the Air for 8 Hours?

The latest viral social media message about coronavirus claims that the virus can remain in the air "for 8 hours." The message shares a link to an article by CNBC titled ‘WHO considers ‘airborne precautions’ for medical staff after study shows coronavirus can survive in air.’

The story is accompanied by the text "WHO (World Health Organisation) reversed their earlier position that COVID virus is not airborne. Please avoid all public transport, especially small and confined ones."

WebQoof Recap: From COVID-19 Being Airborne to Misleading Cures
(Source: WhatsApp)

However, the article does not link to any studies that verify that COVID-19 can survive in air, or on plastic, paper, steel or cardboard and only says that studies are being conducted – by WHO and other scientific bodies – to determine how long the virus can stay on the mentioned surfaces. There is no comment from WHO yet as to how long the virus is detectable on surfaces.

Moreover, the CNBC article talks about ‘airborne-transmission’ although WHO has clearly said that there is thus far no evidence to support the same, and stated that the only case it may happen, like in other viral respiratory diseases, is “during aerosol-generating procedures (eg, tracheal intubation, bronchoscopy).” For such procedures, WHO had recommended airborne precautions.

Read the full story here.

2. COVID-19 Strain Less Virulent in India? Experts Deny Claim

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy took to Twitter on Tuesday, 24 March, to claim that the COVID-19 strain in India is ‘less virulent mutation’.

He attributed the information to his ‘US-based scientist friend Ramesh Swamy’ and wrote, “Uniquely it (COVID-19) is able to be targeted and defeated more effectively by our body’s natural defensive mechanism that the strains abroad.”

The Quint got in touch with Dr Rajni Kant Srivastava, Director of Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC), Gorakhpur, who said that no such study has been conducted in India to claim that the strain of virus in India is less virulent.

WebQoof Recap: From COVID-19 Being Airborne to Misleading Cures
(Illustartion: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

He further said that every country has a different climate and a different population and this assertion can’t be based on any one country. A person’s immunity would be different depending on which their body will respond.

Dr Shaheed Jameel, a leading virologist, also refuted the claim and said that there is no evidence or basis to this claim.

Further, scientists have said that the strains look nearly the same everywhere and there is no evidence that some strains are deadlier than others.

Read the full story here.

3. Internet Abuzz With Possible Cures for Coronavirus

There have been several messages about cures for coronavirus.

One viral WhatsApp message claims that three chemical compounds – methylxanthine, theobromine, and theophylline – can help cure the disease if a person has an average immune system. The message further adds that these compounds are present in tea and the hospital staff in China has started serving tea to the infected patients three times a day.

The Quint got in touch with Dr Neeraj Jain, Internal Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, who rubbished the claim and said, “Fact-checks can only be based on scientific data. At present, there is absolutely no evidence or data to support the claim that tea can cure coronavirus.”

Another message claims that drinking hot water and salt/vinegar water gargles can cure COVID-19. The viral message also claims that the disease, before attacking the lungs, remains in the throat for a period of four days.

WebQoof Recap: From COVID-19 Being Airborne to Misleading Cures
(Source: WhatsApp/The Quint)

But The Quint spoke with Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, who said that there’s no medical evidence known to him that suggests coronavirus remains in the throat for four days before attacking the lungs.

“The claim that hot water gargles can treat coronavirus is completely wrong and there is no medical basis for such claims.” he said.

In yet another example of fake news, a message, along with a picture, is being circulated to claim that doctors have finally found the cure for COVID-19.

The message reads, “Great news! Carona virus vaccine ready. Able to cure patient within 3 hours after injection. Hats off to US Scientists. Right now Trump announced that Roche Medical Company will launch the vaccine next Sunday, and millions of doses are ready from it !!! #Covid_19india #Corona (sic).”

WebQoof Recap: From COVID-19 Being Airborne to Misleading Cures
(Source: WhatsApp/Screenshot)

But the picture actually shows not the medicine for coronavirus, but the diagnosis kit. Moreover, no cure for coronavirus has been found yet, and doctors and researchers are still exploring different anti-viral drugs for treatment options.

4. Did Kanika Kapoor Infect Prince Charles With COVID-19? No!

Soon after news of Prince Charles being tested positive for COVID-19 hit the headlines, images of him with Kanika Kapoor went viral with a claim that she had infected the 71-year-old British royal with the virus.

WebQoof Recap: From COVID-19 Being Airborne to Misleading Cures
(Source: Twitter/Screenshot)

The Bollywood singer, who is currently undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow, faced heavy criticism for allegedly hiding her travel history after her return from the UK.

However, the viral image is not recent but from 2015, when the singer attended the Elephant Family charity ‘Travels to my Elephants’, hosted by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Read the full story here.

5. Italy Targeted by Fake News

A photo which shows a couple standing close to each other went viral with the claim that the two of them are doctors in Italy and were saying their last goodbyes, having become infected with coronavirus.

But in reality, this is actually a photo of a couple kissing at the Barcelona airport, captured by an Associated Press photographer some two weeks ago, amid the travel ban announced by US President Donald Trump.

In another piece of fake news targeting Italy, a photo of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro went viral with the claim that it shows the President of Italy crying because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, as is clear, while Bolsonaro is most certainly not the President of Italy, the photo, according to a report, actually shows him crying “in an evangelical Thanksgiving service at the Planalto Palace when he remembered the knife attack he suffered in Juiz de Fora (MG), during the 2018 election campaign.”

As the pandemic continues to kill massive numbers in Italy, an image showing mass graves is being shared to insinuate that it is from Italy where people are being buried en masse.

But the image is not from Italy. It’s actually taken from a scene from the film ‘Contagion’ released in 2011 and is being used to falsely claim that it shows mass graves in Italy.

You can read all our coronavirus related fact-checked stories here.

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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