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The Spread of Disinformation and False Claims about Coronavirus Discredited

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The Coronavirus pandemic has led to an outbreak of false information with well-meaning individuals sharing false remedies and circulated news to friends and family on messaging platforms including Facebook and WhatsApp resulting in a rapid increase of false claims. Nearly half of UK adults online have been exposed to misleading or false information claims Ofcom has warned. Here is a list of false Covid-19 stories being shared.

Holding your breath for ten seconds means you do not have Coronavirus

This claim began circulating early into the virus outbreak and was simultaneously shared 35,000 times on Facebook. It contained several pieces of false information and fake advise on how to detect if you have Covid-19. Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without feeling discomfort or coughing has no direct link to whether you have Coronavirus or any lung disease. The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are a fever, dry cough and tiredness. You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise or detect the disease. The way to confirm if you have the virus is through a laboratory test.

Claims are insistent on the advice that taking a hot bath will reduce risk of receiving the virus. Regardless of the heat of the bath or shower your body temperature will continue to remain of close to 36.5°C to 37°C. You may instead raise risks to harmful burns on your skin from the intense heat of the water. Cleaning your hands preferably with soap is the best way to prevent Covid-19, because you eliminate viruses that may linger on your hands and avoid infection from touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Drinking water every 15 minutes or alcohol will prevent you catching the virus

Frequently shared and discussed is the viral text that serious excellent advice claims drinking water frequently will prevent the virus from entering the respiratory system. It is true that COVID-19 infects the respiratory system by directly entering the body through the mouth or nose, however water cannot dilute or clean it out from your system. Drinking water is beneficial to keeping you hydrated, but no evidence supports it will prevent infection of the disease. Despite external alcohol being used as a partial sanitiser, consumption of alcohol internally is not effective, and instead an overconsumption can rather deter your health than support it.

Advice has circulated online to stay away from aspirin and ibuprofen if ill with Covid-19 as it is inflammatory and can become an irritant to the virus. However, Coronavirus is a new pathogen, and little is known about how patients respond to common medications. There has also been no collected data to back this statement. Until there is evidence, there should be no publication of public health advice.

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5G mobile networks spread the virus Covid-19

A post from Facebook suggests that 5G has damaged peoples’ immune systems and so boosted the virulence of the common cold and the likelihood of contracting Covid-19. There is no evidence that 5G can damage the immune system- and the virus cannot travel on radio waves or mobile networks. Coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person may speak, sneeze or cough. People can also become infected from touching contaminated surfaces but not from radio waves.

The exact analysis of how the virus was developed is still unclear but scientists strongly believe the virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and similar to the SARS virus in 2003, is strongly thought to have originated from a meat market, where wild animals are traded, therefore meaning it is a zoonotic disease. A disease which spreads from non-humans to humans from animals such as bats and pangolins.

Warm or cold weather can terminate the disease

You can contract Coronavirus whether temperatures are warmer in the atmosphere, as countries with often sunny and dry weather have also caught the diseases and died from it. The virus can spread in any hot and humid climates. Exposing your skin to higher temperatures only exposes you to UV rays and can be partially or severely damaging long-term. There is also no inclination to believe the cold prevents the disease, as the human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather.

Animals and family pets can spread the Covid-19 virus

It is thought to believe that Coronavirus was linked to a live animal meat market, however the virus now primarily spreads from human to human. We are still learning about the virus, and through tests there appears to be a minimal link of the disease transferring from animal to human, but there is no persistent evidence to believe that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus. In such cases, it is rare that this would occur, you are conditionally far more at risk contracting the disease from a human than from any species of animal.

Since the outpour of these false claims and many others there has been a rapid response unit within the Cabinet Office working with social media firms such as Whatsapp and Facebook to remove fake news and harmful content. It follows calls from senior MPs and other organisations to better hold social media companies to account over disinformation. To help prevent further spread of fake press, it is helpful to check the Government’s Checklist if you are unsure about the validity of a claim. If it is not on the Government of NHS website, it is likely to be false.

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The Spread of Disinformation and False Claims about Coronavirus Discredited. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 31, 2023, from
“The Spread of Disinformation and False Claims about Coronavirus Discredited.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
The Spread of Disinformation and False Claims about Coronavirus Discredited. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 31 May 2023].
The Spread of Disinformation and False Claims about Coronavirus Discredited [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2023 May 31]. Available from:
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