The co-founder of COFACT Thailand, Supinya Klangnarong, revealed the top five misleading stories about COVID-19 being shared online.
CLAIM 1: “All Thais must enter lockdown” says Dr. Prasit Wattanapa
One item is a faked voice recording, claiming to be the voice of Professor Dr. Prasit Wattanapa, of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, urging a lockdown of the entire country.
The Faculty has released a statement denying that it is the professor’s voice and urging the public not to share the recording.
CLAIM 2: Drinking lemonade can kill coronavirus
This item of nonsense first appeared in March last year. Former Director-General of the Disease Control Department, Pornthep Siriwanarangsan, has already explained that lemons cannot kill the virus, though they are rich in vitamin C.
Similarly, misleading claims that lemon juice, mixed with soda and vinegar, can also kill the coronavirus is unproven and the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine has asked the public not to share this false information.
CLAIM 3: Those who adopt an alkaline diet will lower their chance of becoming infected
In addition to this claim, there are others who say that COVID-19 will not attack vegetarians and vegans.
Medical experts have already debunked these claims, explaining that the pH levels (acidity) in human blood are usually between 7.35-7.45, regardless of whether the person is vegetarian.
Another expert said that eating large amounts of fruits and vegetables cannot change the pH levels. Therefore, this claim is incorrect.
CLAIM 4: Mailing parcels can pass on the coronavirus
This false claim first appeared in April last year. Now it is doing the rounds again, Thailand Post has announced, on their official website, that they have imposed stringent sanitization measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
CLAIM 5: Standing in direct sunlight can kill the coronavirus
First appearing in March last year, this claim is debunked by the Disease Control Department, who explained that the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) can be resistant to heat up to 90 degrees celcius, but sunlight does not reach that temperature.
Supinya Klangnarong also stated that these urban myths are just some of many examples of how the coronavirus outbreak attracts a large amount of fake news and misinformation.
Although these claims have already been debunked by experts, some have resurfaced.
COFACT is strongly advising people to double and triple checkinformation they receive before believing it and, especially, before sharing it with others.
COFACT also blames the Thai habit of not correcting one another when they encounter wrong information, leading to circulation of fake news over and over again.
Currently, Thailand has a number of organisations which deal with fake news and misinformation, such as COFACT, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and the Sure and Share Centre of the MCOT.