CORONAVIRUS panic has spread across the globe and with it, online hoaxes and debunked conspiracy theories about COVID-19’s origin.

Coronavirus is showing no signs of slowing down with more than 800,000 infections since last November. The newly discovered pathogen has killed more than 40,000 people, fuelling one of the worst health crises the world has seen in recent years.

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    As concerns for the world’s safety grow, so does the spread of misinformation regarding the pandemic.

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    Dr Robert Shmerling, faculty editor of Harvard Health Publishing, has listed a number of bizarre conspiracy theories that have flooded the internet since the coronavirus began.

    He said: “Facebook is trying to fact-check postings, label those that are clearly false, and reduce their ranking so they are less prominently displayed.

    “Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok have also taken steps to limit or label misinformation.

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    “But it’s nearly impossible to catch them all, especially since some are in private social media groups and are harder to find.”

    Among the most insidious theories on the internet are claims the virus is a man-made bioweapon.

    The unfounded claims have been debunked by scientists but large swathes of the internet continue to spread the hoax rumours.

    One person said on Twitter: “The more I think about it and the more you see its impact around the world, the more I believe that #Covid_19 #coronavirus #WuhanVirus #China#Virus or whatever they want to call it is the perfect bioweapon and it’s working perfectly.”

    Another Twitter user said: “I believe authoritarian action is necessary to preserve our society but I am hyper aware that this was why the coronavirus bioweapon was used in the first place.

    It’s important to seek out reliable information and act on it

    Dr Robert Shmerling, Harvard Health Publishing

    “They want to pass emergency laws to usher in a communist takeover, not a fascist one.”

    A third person said: “#Coronavirus is a bioweapon and should be treated as such.

    “I don’t agree with lockdowns or government interference of any kind. I agree with masks, gloves and goggles.”

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    Dr Shmerling argued now more than ever, is a time to follow trustworthy news sources to stay up to date with official advice and information.

    He said: “When considering a new infectious disease about which so much is still unknown, it’s important to seek out reliable information and act on it.

    “Be sceptical of implausible conspiracy theories or claims of ‘fake news’ that dismiss recommendations from public health officials.

    “Addressing the concerns surrounding the new coronavirus requires accessible, reliable, and frequently updated information; the best we can do is to look to the experts whose mission it is to protect public health.”

    The health expert listed the following conspiracies and rumours that have been proven false:

    “‘Oregano Oil Proves Effective Against Coronavirus’, an unfounded claim.

    “A hoax stating that the US government had created and patented a vaccine for coronavirus years ago, shared with nearly 5,000 Facebook users.

    “A false claim that ‘coronavirus is a human-made virus in the laboratory’.

    “Sales of unproven ‘nonmedical immune boosters’ to help people ward off 2019-nCoV.

    “Unfounded recommendations to prevent infection by taking vitamin C and avoiding spicy foods.

    “Dangerous suggestions that drinking bleach and snorting cocaine can cure coronavirus infection.”

    Sourse: www.express.co.uk

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