False Claims Coronavirus Hiding In Energy Drinks, Noodles, Slammed By Health Departments
Bizarre claims coronavirus is hiding inside food like noodles, rice and even energy drinks are spreading on Facebook, with health experts forced to emphatically slap down the harmful posts.
Public fear over the virus, which has been traced to the Chinese city of Wuhan, has seen a wide variety of fear-mongering claims spread on social media in Australia.
One particular error-riddled post is currently being shared and copy-pasted on dozens of Australian social media accounts, falsely claiming coronavirus has been found in rice, noodles, fortune cookies, onion rings, ice tea, energy drinks and wagyu beef. No such warnings have been issued by Australian authorities.
The post also claims falsely that specific train stations in Sydney's western suburbs "have shown positive readings to the virus". The post has spread across Facebook and Instagram.
The NSW Health Department has swiftly slapped down the post, flatly refuting its claims.
"NSW Health has been made aware of a social media post that is being widely circulated warning people to not consume certain foods or visit certain locations in Sydney," the department told 10 daily.
"This post has not originated from NSW health or any entity relating to us."
The post -- which has been shared dozens of times on Facebook, including by several childcare centres in Sydney -- is full of spelling mistakes and unsubstantiated allegations, including that the 'Bureau of Diseasology Parramatta' has issued warnings.
NSW Health said there is "no such entity".
"NSW Health would like to assure the community that the locations mentioned in this post pose no risk to visitors, and there have been no “positive readings” at train stations," the department said.
Just four people in NSW have been confirmed as having coronavirus, with six people under investigation, as of 11:30 am Tuesday.
Health departments worldwide are warning against misinformation about the spread of the virus, while even social networking site Twitter has advised users to "make sure you get the best information".
Searching for 'coronavirus' on Twitter returns a page with 'know the facts' at the top, with prominent links to experts like the Australian Department of Health and the World Health Organisation.
It comes after a more sophisticated fake warning was circulated online, claiming to be from the Queensland Health Department.
The fake advisory claimed that health warnings had been issued for areas "with Chinese nationals of ratio of 1 to 3 non-Chinese Australians".
The post was labelled "100 per cent fake" by Queensland state politician Duncan Pegg.
QLD Health warned people on Facebook to only rely on official channels and sources for information and news, asking people "to avoid misinformation" by only viewing "accurate and current information" on their website.
Brisbane's Lord Mayor, Adrian Schrinner, responded to the "fake news" by taking his family to the suburb of Sunnybank, one of the areas named in the fraudulent health advisory.
Australian health authorities have warned that the country's fifth case of the deadly coronavirus won't be the last. A 21-year-old Sydney university student on Monday became the country's fifth person to be diagnosed after last week flying back from the virus's epicentre in Wuhan, China.
Three men -- aged 35, 43 and 53 -- are also being treated at Sydney's Westmead Hospital and are in a stable condition.
A man in his 50s in Victoria is being treated at Monash Medical Centre while four of his family members are under home isolation.
Australian chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy said authorities were doing their best to contact people who had been in close proximity to those who had been diagnosed with the virus, but more positive results were inevitable.
"There's people tested every day and there will be more that turn out to be positive," Murphy said.