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JUBA - 9 Jul 2020

Fact Check: Debunking false and misleading information on Coronavirus

People have been posting claims in Facebook groups about the new Coronavirus - many of which are false. The Radio Tamazuj verification team has identified several posts that might have misled online users. While not all of these specific posts have been widely shared, they are part of a trend of false information being spread among the South Sudanese community on Facebook about the Coronavirus.

This Facebook post claimed that Africans were not at risk of being infected by coronavirus. This is FALSE. More than 45 countries in Africa have reported active cases. As of today those countries have recorded more than half a million confirmed cases, and 10,000 deaths.

The COVID-19 virus can infect people of all ages and can infect younger people and older people according to the WHO. People with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

This Facebook post was shared in a popular South Sudanese group and was shared more than 20 times in individual pages and other groups.

MISLEADING: This was posted by a well-known journalist in Juba claiming that people with blood group O+ (positive) have a lower chance of contracting coronavirus. Several comments of users on the post seemed to agree with the notion.

In some previous research studies, it has been established that some blood types may be more prone to severe Coronavirus symptoms, this is not yet confirmed by the WHO or other credible health organizations. Anyone can get the virus.

As Covid-19 is a new virus and research is still being conducted to better understand it, it is early to rule out that individuals with a specific blood type have lower chances of contracting the Coronavirus. Thus the above post might be misleading to online users.

FALSE: This post was shared in a popular news Facebook group and claims imported masks could give people the virus. This claim is false. Experts say there is low risk to using masks that are imported.

“It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems likely to behave like other coronaviruses. A recent review of the survival of human coronaviruses on surfaces found large variability, ranging from 2 hours to 9 days (11),” according to the WHO.

“The survival time depends on a number of factors, including the type of surface, temperature, relative humidity and specific strain of the virus.”