Wuhan Virus Warning Text Contains Fake Flu Prevention Tip From A “Health Authority”

With Chinese New Year coming in just a few days, the mass migration of Chinese back to their hometowns means the inevitable spread of the Wuhan coronovirus.

The virus – which has taken 9 lives at the time of writing – is becoming a greater concern for Singaporeans since Singapore is an international travel hub.

Image result for changi airport transitImage for illustration purposes only
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As in any situation of alarm, advisory messages start making their rounds on social media and the various messaging platforms.

Recently, many Singaporeans have claimed that they received one such text, with advice allegedly from Hong Kong Professor Yuen Kwok Yung, the city’s infectious disease expert.

Fake flu prevention tip to prevent spread of Wuhan virus

Starting the message off by crediting the tips to Dr Yuen was clearly a way to deceive unsuspecting recipients.

Affirming his authority by citing his experience during the 2003 SARS outbreak seems to further solidify the message’s legitimacy, until we reach point number 6.

Take a look at the entire message here:

Screenshot of the text message 

Namedropping the “Health Authority”, the tip sounds very similar to one that surfaced earlier this month.

Strange “medical” advice

Describing a virus that can “enter your body if your throat or throat mucous is dry”, point 6 doles out one important precaution.

Screenshot of the text message 

Apparently, all you have to do to prevent the flu is to ensure that your throat is always moist. Leave your throat dry for 10 minutes, and the virus will enter your body somehow.

Earlier points in the message made reference to the Wuhan virus or “Coronavirus”, which leaves no doubt that the tip is meant to prevent it.

However, the Ministry of Health (MOH) hasn’t released any official advisories in light of the viral outbreak, which experts have yet to fully comprehend.

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If you’re familiar with spam WhatsApp messages, you’d notice how point number 6 resembles a fake flu prevention tip that MOH had debunked.

In an article on 8 Jan, The Straits Times had quoted an MOH spokesperson who said that,

Keeping one’s throat moist does not prevent influenza.

Be it the common flu or possible Wuhan virus symptoms, keeping your throat moist doesn’t guarantee protection.

How to actually prevent the spread of flu

To counter the fake message, MOH provided legitimate means of preventing the flu.

Here’s what you should do to not spread the flu:

•Wash your hands with soap before meals and after using the toilet, and after coughing and sneezing if you are able to

•Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and dispose of the used tissue immediately

•Take medical leave if you are sick; stay at home to avoid infection people and wear a mask when going out

•Try not to share food, drinks, utensils or personal hygiene items with anyone who might be a carrier of influenza

Prevent the spread of fake news too

If you’ve received the message, remember not to send it to anyone else. Inform the people around you too.

We wouldn’t want to incite panic when there isn’t any reason to.

The next time you receive a suspiciously lengthy text message, remember to do some research to confirm its legitimacy before sharing.

Featured image adapted from Telecom Talk and Business Insider