Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Coronavirus myth-busting: Doctors urge people not to listen to dangerous rumours online

WhatsApp messages can't be policed by social media giants, because they're encrypted. Credit: ITV News

By ITV Cymru Wales reporter Charanpreet Khaira

Doctors in Wales are warning about the dangerous myths surrounding coronavirus.

Rumours spread to beat the disease include putting onions in every room to claims that blowing a hairdryer up your nose will rid you of the infection.

The UK Government today announced the creation of a new committee to investigate fake news being spread on social media about the disease.

We asked our viewers what rumours they'd heard about the disease - and put those questions to a GP in Caerphilly, Dr David Bailey.

Can my pet give me coronavirus?

No - you won't get coronavirus from your pet, unless your pet happens to be a snake from China!

Can I get a rescue pack from my GP?

We've been getting lots of requests for rescue packs - even from people who only have mild asthma, or had asthma symptoms years ago.

There's no evidence that this is helpful - and steroids could even be harmful in dealing with this disease!

So we would only advise rescue packs for those with severe COPD.

Dr David Bailey is warning that misinformation can put even more pressure on the NHS. Credit: ITV News

Should I take paracetamol to avoid getting coronavirus? What about Vitamin C, or Zinc?

No, no, and no. It is sensible to take paracetamol if you have a fever - but there is no evidence that it will stop you from getting coronavirus.

Vitamin C is good for your immunity generally - but there is no evidence that it would stop you getting the illness.

Can I kill coronavirus with heat? I have heard you can sip hot water, or blow a hairdryer up your nose.

Absolutely not. You can blow a hairdryer up your nose all day if you like - it won't make any difference at all.

It does worry me that people are being given this misinformation. They are acting on that on times which is not actually helping the people trying to help them. Some of the information is putting extra pressure on practices, on hospitals, on NHS 111 which is clearly a bad thing.

– Dr David Bailey, GP
Facebook groups were created to support people, but sometimes they can be misused. Credit: ITV News

Where do the myths come from?

Facebook and Twitter have cracked down on fake news, instead promoting information from Governments and the WHO.

But even the social media giants can’t control WhatsApp, where messages are encrypted, or private groups on Facebook, that have sprung up to give people vital support.

Lots of these have sprung up in Wales to respond to the crisis - and they can be hard to police.

We’ve asked other members to report if they see anything that’s misinformation - obviously in every group, you get people that don’t follow the rules - same way people aren’t following the rules at the moment, going about parks, having barbecues - so same thing in the group.

– Steven Brennan, Admin Cardiff Coronavirus Support Group
Credit: ITV News

One rumour being spread online claims to be a message from staff at Prince of Wales Hospital.

It says you can test for the virus by holding your breath - it recommends doing this every morning to help detect infection and it even goes on to suggest gargling with disinfectant solutions.

The rumour mill might be people’s response to worry but it can be dangerous.

People are being told to do things that can put extra pressure on NHS Workers. Please just listen to NHS and Public Health Wales Guidance rather than these false sources.

– Dr David Bailey, GP

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know