Coronavirus: What misinformation has spread in Africa?

Coronavirus: What misinformation has spread in Africa?

African countries are experiencing a rise in the number of new coronavirus cases, and many governments are now enforcing strict social distancing measures.

As they prepare for a surge in cases, misleading information has been spreading throughout the continent.

1.This video does not show Africans under attack in China

Videos have been trending online claiming to show Africans being attacked in the street in China. This comes as African communities in China have reported being accused of spreading the virus.

A Kenyan blogger on Twitter, and others on YouTube and Facebook, shared one with the caption:”Kenyan couple exchange blows with a Chinese couple in the streets of Wuhan…. it’s survival for the fittest.”

Clips from the video were also used by a leading TV station in Kenya.

Grab from fake video about street fight

The only problem is that the video is taken in New York, not China.

On Twitter, the post tags nearby places in New York in a caption to the video, including St Barnabas Hospital and Fordham Road. And on Instagram, it tags Oriental House – a Chinese restaurant in New York – as the location.

By using Google Street View, you can locate a cash-point and the hospital, both of which are visible in the video of the street brawl.

2. Consuming alcohol does not protect against Covid-19

The governor of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, has been criticised for misleading remarks about alcohol and the coronavirus.

Governor Mike Sonko was explaining why he is including bottles of Hennessy cognac in food supplies for vulnerable people in the city, saying it would serve as a “throat sanitiser”.

“From the research which has been conducted by World Health Organization (WHO) and various health organisations it has been revealed that alcohol plays a very major role in killing the coronavirus, or any sort of virus,” he said.

Screen grab of Twitter post with video of Nairobi governor

He appears to have misinterpreted WHO health advice. It says drinking alcohol does not protect you against the coronavirus, but it does refer to the efficacy of alcohol-based gel to clean your hands.

The WHO advice adds that alcohol consumption “is likely to increase the health risks if a person becomes infected with the virus”.

Hennessy, the manufacturers of Hennessy cognac, have also cautioned Kenyans against consuming alcohol with the belief that it will offer protection.

3. Blue facemasks are not contaminated

Two posts on Facebook, which have been urging Africans not to wear blue face masks amid claims they are contaminated with toxins, have been widely shared.

Screen grab of fake post about Jeff Bezos of Amazon

The first post claims to be quoting Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and a supposed scheme to distribute contaminated masks.

“Dear Africans, avoid wearing the blue masks that are made in America and Europe because these masks contain suicidal toxic [sic]” the post reads. It doesn’t explain what toxins they are supposed to contain.

Amazon says the quotes have been fabricated.

A post on another page – this time falsely quoting the head of the World Health Organization – also urges people not to wear blue masks.

Mary Stephen, from the WHO regional office for Africa, told the BBC the organisation hasn’t received any reports of contaminated masks.

“Countries are sourcing their masks from different sources, and we are not aware of any contamination,” she says.

4. Masks do not guarantee protection

A regional governor in Nigeria has been criticised after implying that wearing a mask guarantees protection from the virus and that if wearing them, social distancing is unnecessary.

Screen grab of Nigeria state governor in video

Ben Ayade, the governor of Cross River state, was launching a “No Mask, No Movement” campaign in the regional capital Calabar to raise awareness about masks.

But he makes incorrect claims about the benefit of wearing masks.

A video circulating online shows him saying: “Because I’m a professor of science and I know how this virus moves, I know that once you put on this mask, you already have been protected.”

He then goes on to say you don’t need to follow social distancing measures once you have a mask.

The state’s health commissioner, Dr Betta Edu, told the BBC that the governor was trying to emphasise the importance of masks, but clarified that you do need to take other precautions as well.Skip Twitter post by @NCDCgovNCDC@NCDCgov

Remember, face masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-washing with soap and running water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer as well as other measures

Source: BBC

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