Since the statement of Fahrettin Koca, the Minister of Health about the first Covid-19 case in Turkey, the number of posts about the virus increased on social media. One of them is the message that is claimed to have been published by UNICEF. The message, sent to Teyit, was also shared by Yusuf Halaçoğlu.
Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Partnerships, made a statement to refute the claim about the message on 6 March 2020. Gornitzka warned about misinformation in such a time and emphasized that the information that is not given by verified sources such as the World Health Organization should not be relied on.
UNICEF has an image telling the precautions for the infection risk and the content of the image is never related to the message in the claim.
What are the wrongs and the rights in the claims of the message that does not belong to UNICEF? A similar message was shared on WhatsApp before and Teyit prepared an analysis for this. If we examine again:
- The claim that the virus causing Covid-19 has a radius of 400-500 microcells and that any mask will work is not true. The virus is 120-160 nanometres in size. If you are not carrying any of the symptoms of the disease, you do not need to wear a mask. Wear a mask only if you suspect Covid-19 infection or if you are in contact with such a person. There are also different types of masks and it is not completely protective as most of them do not cover your face completely.
- It is not true that the virus has settled on the ground, not on the air, it is unlikely to be transmitted by air, and it lies for 12 hours on the metal surface and nine hours on the fabric. According to the World Health Organization and CDC, it is not clear how long the virus that caused Covid-19 survived on the surfaces. This period can be a few hours or a few days. This may vary depending on the type of surface, factors such as temperature and humidity.
- The claims that the virus cannot survive above 26-27 degrees, and exposure to hot water and hot drinks and sun exposure can kill the virus do not reflect the truth. The World Health Organization said that the virus can also live in hot or humid climates. The claim that the virus can be killed by hot water and hot drinks is also unfounded. The claim has no scientific base.
- The claim that avoiding ice cream and cold foods and beverages will work in fighting the virus is not true. It does not have any scientific base. The necessity of avoiding ice cream and cold beverages is not confirmed by official institutions.
- The claim that the gargle with warm water and salt will kill the virus while landing on the tonsils is not true. There is no explanation about it by WHO or another institution. The guide of the organization states that warm, hot or cold water does not any preventive effect on the virus.
In conclusion, the claim that the message on social media was published by UNICEF is not true. The post in question is an example of an imposter.
Africacheck, Viral ‘Unicef’ message about preventing coronavirus infection a mix of truths and half-truths, 6 March 2020
BBC, Coronavirus: The fake health advice you should ignore, 8 March 2020
Boomlive, Viral Coronavirus 'Advisory' Is Not From UNICEF, 9 March 2020
CDC, How COVID-19 Spreads
Harvard Health Publishing, Be careful where you get your news about coronavirus, 1 February 2020
Liputan6, Fact Check: UNICEF Hoaks Send Chain Message Contains Corona Virus Prevention, 9 March 2020
Snopes, Will Warm Weather Kill Coronavirus?, 3 March 2020
UNICEF Türkiye Twitter account, statement about the issue, 11 March 2020
UNICEF Türkiye Instagram account, statement about the issue, 11 March 2020
WHO, Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 50, 10 March 2020
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Translation: Hilal Ebru Yakar