As the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has spread across China like an out-of-control wildfire, so too have rumors and disinformation – ranging from quack cures to infectious pets.
Below, we put some of the more common social media rumors to rest.
1. Coronavirus Caused by Bat-Eating Women
Screengrab via Douyin
In the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, footage of two Chinese women enjoying a big ol’ bowl of bat soup surfaced on video-sharing platform Douyin. Chinese-language captions accompanying the videos accused the duo of being responsible for the outbreak of Wuhan’s novel coronavirus. There are two main problems with this rumor, though: The video wasn’t shot in Wuhan, or China at large, and it’s old.
In the wake of the bat soup controversy, one of the women in the video issued an apology (which has since been deleted) on Weibo, explaining that the footage was filmed for a travel program in 2016 in the Pacific island nation of Palau. Fruit bat soup is allegedly a delicacy in Palau.
The travel program the woman referred to is called Dream Running and it is available on YouTube, although the bat-eating video can no longer be found. In a 2017 episode, the travel blogger does mention her experience dining on bat soup.
2. Child Urine Can Combat Novel Coronavirus
Image via Pixabay
Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Chinese online healthcare platform dxy.com has been providing regular updates on the epidemic, offering a real-time feed of confirmed coronavirus cases and a list of trending rumors. Over the CNY holiday, a screengrab that appeared to have originated from the website began making the rounds online; text in the image claimed that urine from children 8 years old or younger can help patients by “restraining the novel coronavirus.” Of course, dxy.com later crushed the rumor, stating that the screengrab was created on Photoshop.
3. Strong Liquor Can Keep You from Coronavirus Infection
Image via Pixabay
In addition to the unconventional urine remedy, dxy.com has shot down another alleged coronavirus cure: booze. The website clarified that while spirits above 70% ABV will only kill the virus externally; the human body absorbs the alcohol once ingested, so it is useless for those who are already infected with the disease.
According to an article published in the Sun, a British English teacher living in Wuhan claims to have been cured of the coronavirus by drinking hot whiskey with honey – we’re calling BS, though.
4. Pets Can Transmit Coronavirus to Humans
Image via Pixabay
This rumor started after a CCTV interview with a National Health Commission expert was broadcast on January 29. The expert said that the virus is transmitted among mammals and if pets are in contact with a coronavirus patient, they must be monitored.
On the same day the interview was broadcast, local officials in one neighborhood in Taiyuan, Shanxi province put up a notice asking residents to get rid of their pets. However, the bulletin was quickly removed.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no evidence to indicate that pets such as dogs and cats can be infected by 2019-nCoV.
5. Bad Fengshui at Forbidden City Causes Coronavirus
Image via China Daily
Some modern-day fengshui believers in China have concluded that a disturbance at the Forbidden City in Beijing has brought misfortune to the Chinese nation. The rumor began with a now-deleted Weibo post that included photos of two women (not the bat ladies) posing with an SUV at the Palace Museum inside the Forbidden City on January 17.
The post triggered outrage among Chinese netizens, who blamed the twosome for damaging the ancient cultural site and disturbing the ‘dragon’s vein,’ a term associated with fengshui. As a result of the incident, the director of the Palace Museum issued an apology and two members of the Palace Museum have been suspended from their duties.
Of course, this rumor is complete and utter rubbish, as the new coronavirus predates the ‘off-road incident’ at the Forbidden City.
For regular updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, click here.
[Cover image: screengrab via QQ]