Fake Wuhan Advisory Allegedly Received By S’poreans

As is obligatory with every one of these articles, a recap, with the help of my colleague:

  • The mysterious Wuhan virus, which is now commonly known as the “new coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”, infected people from a live animal market in Wuhan on 31 December 2019
  • Since then, details of the virus are unclear; no one knows if it can be transmitted from human to human
  • On 11 January 2020, China stated that there have been no new cases since 3 or 5 January 2020 (there have been different reports)
  • 16 January 2020, Japan informed WHO that a person has been tested positive for 2019-nCoV
  • A person in Thailand became the second person outside of China to be infected. On 19 January 2020, the first confirmed case outside of Wuhan was detected, followed by a confirmed case in South Korea the next day.
  • China state media reported that the number of confirmed cases now stands at a whopping 291—a sharp increase of 73 new cases in a day. And the number of deaths rose to six.
  • WHO (World Health Organisation) announced a key emergency meeting
  • Hong Kong scientists projected the number of infected people should be much higher, at a range of about 1,300 to 1,700 from the onset of the outbreak to 17 January.

With a history like that, people had every reason to panic when they hear about the Wuhan virus.

Image: Reddit (u/Ogre_B0y_63)

And let’s just say that human judgment is not at its best when faced with the potential of death.

We all have someone in the family who always shares articles based on superstition, and when it comes to Wuhan, the sharing only got worse.

That’s right, even viruses nowadays are going digital. Digital viruses like fake news.

Fake Advisory From “Dr Yuen”

MSNews put out a warning for one particular message that claimed to contain advice from Hong Kong Professor Yuen Kwok Yung. 

Dr Yuen is an infectious disease expert who actually exists. The message seemed to have used his name to spread unhelpful advice for the prevention of the spread of the Wuhan virus.

The entire message:

Image: MSNews

Contains Debunked Flu Prevention Tips

In particular, point 6 claims that the virus can “enter your body if your throat or throat mucous is dry”, and all you need to do to prevent the flu is to ensure that your throat is “always in a moist condition”. If you leave your throat dry for 10 minutes, the virus will “find ways to enter into your body”.

This was already debunked by the MOH on 8 Jan 2020, which says, “Keeping one’s throat moist does not prevent influenza.”

Previously, a similar message spread but claimed that the advice came from the Ministry.

MOH also added, “Flu is spread mainly by droplets through an infected person coughing and sneezing.”

How To Really Prevent The Spread of Flu

According to MOH, you should:

  • Wash hands with soap before eating and after going to the toilet
  • When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Toss the tissue into a bin immediately.
  • Stay home from work or school when sick. Wear a mask if going out.
  • Don’t share food and drinks, utensils, or personal hygiene items like toothbrushes and towels with those who display symptoms of influenza.

It should be noted that the above advisory is a generic one. MOH has not released any official advisories specific to the Wuhan virus, as experts have not fully understood it.

In the meantime, watch out for fake news purporting to be from figures of authority.

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If you really want to be careful, instead of listening to dubious sources, perhaps it’s better to bring out the hazmat suit.

Image: Giphy


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