Since China first reported an atypical cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan in late December, the internet has been swarming with myths about the virus responsible for the outbreak, the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). To combat misinformation about the virus, which has sickened thousands and led to more than 500 deaths, the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.org has published a series of articles countering common misunderstandings and mistruths.
China’s National Health Commission first reported the coronavirus outbreak in the city of Wuhan on Dec. 31, 2019. On Jan. 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency to help mobilize international aid and political support to contain the outbreak. By Feb. 6, 565 people had died from the virus—two in Hong Kong and the Philippines and the rest in China, according to The New York Times. Globally, 28,285 cases were confirmed and an additional 24,702 cases were suspected.
Despite the facts, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and other social media sites have been used to spread false claims about the scale of the virus, with some posts declaring that as many as 10,000 people had died from infection, as well as conspiracy theories about the virus’s origin.
Read more at Annenberg Public Policy Center.