A coronavirus hoax message is circulating on WhatsApp - here’s what to do if you receive it

Monday, 17th February 2020, 5:08 pm
Updated Monday, 17th February 2020, 5:32 pm

A coronavirus scam message has been circulating on WhatsApp, claiming that garlic is a cure for the deadly infection.

As of Monday 17 February, the disease - officially named Covid-9 - has infected more than 71,000 people globally.

However, people have been taking to social media to share a strange WhatsApp message from an unknown sender claiming “Chinese medicine” involving garlic is the cure for the virus.

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The World Health Organisation last week declared the spread of false information online an “infodemic”.

A representative for the WHO met tech giants in Silicon Valley to urge the companies involved to take action against the spread of misinformation.

Twitter placed a “know the facts” button below the search bar for anyone who searches the virus on its social media site.

Andrew Pattison, digital business solutions manager, for the WHO said false information was "spreading faster than the virus".

Staff from Google, Apple, Airbnb, Lyft, Uber and Salesforce were all in attendance at the meeting.

What does the message say?

The message reads: “Pass it please. Good news, Wuhan’s coronavirus can be cured by one bowl of freshly boiled garlic water.

“Old Chinese doctor has [sic] proven its efficacy. Many patients have also proven this to be effective. Eight (8) cloves of chopped garlic add 7(cups) of water and bring to boil.

“Eat and drink the boiled garlic water, overnight improvement and heading. Glad to share this.”

Across the world people have been receiving similar messages claiming other things such as bath salts and bat soup are cures for the virus.

Another WhatsApp hoax message claims that Covid-9 was predicted by author Dean Kootz in his novel “The Eyes of Darkness”.

A Dean Koontz novel written in 1981 predicted the outbreak of the coronavirus! pic.twitter.com/bjjqq6TzOl

— Nick Hinton (@NickHintonn) February 16, 2020

What should I do if I receive the message?

The best thing to do is disregard the message. Do not click on any links, and block the number.

Depending on your service provider and phone model, there are ways to report spam messages.

If you can, report this scam to your mobile phone provider to try and stop the spread of potentially harmful misinformation.

Is there a cure for coronavirus?

There is, as yet, no cure for coronavirus, but scientists are working on a vaccine and the NHS has urged people to disregard such scams and not pass them on.

A further 2,048 cases were confirmed in China after the Government changed its methodology in counting those carrying the disease.

So far 1,770 people have died inside of China, and five people have died elsewhere in the world. There are nine confirmed cases in the UK.

Taking necessary precautions, such as maintaining a rigorous hand-washing regime, stocking up on hand gels, especially in the workplace and schools, will decrease the risk of you catching any virus.

Much like the common flu, those who have died or suffered the worse from the disease have mainly those already suffering from health issues and the elderly.

Scientists claim it will take 18 months to synthesise an appropriate working vaccine. But ensuring strong hand-hygiene practises and protocols in work will decrease the risk of infection.