Coronavirus graphics you may have been sent on WhatsApp are not actually from Unicef

11th Mar 2020

Claim

The new coronavirus is 400-500 micro and for this reason wide enough to be stopped by masks.

Conclusion

The virus is 50-200 nanometres wide, and a mask, although sometimes necessary, won’t guarantee that you don’t get Covid-19.

 

The new coronavirus does not settle in the air but is grounded so it is not transmitted by air.

 

The virus can spread via sneeze and cough droplets that can move a short distance through the air and into someone else’s system.

 

Coronavirus lives on the hands for 10 minutes, but can be prevented with alcohol hand sanitiser.

 

It’s not clear how long the virus can ‘survive’ on hands, but hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol is a good second choice to washing your hands with soap and water.

 

Coronavirus lives for 12 hours on metal surfaces.

 

We don’t know how long the virus can survive on surfaces yet, it could be between hours and days.

 

Gargling with warm and salt water kills germs on the tonsils and prevents them from leaking into the lungs.

 

There’s no evidence gargling with saline will cure or prevent Covid-19.

 

If the new coronavirus is exposed to a temperature of 26-27ºC it will be killed, as it does not live in hot regions. Also drinking hot water and sun exposure will do the trick and staying away from ice cream and cold food is advised.

 

There have been cases of Covid-19 in areas with warmer temperatures than this, and we don’t know what temperatures the virus can withstand. There’s no evidence that hot water and the sun will cure it or that staying away from cold food can prevent it.

 

Coronavirus stays on fabric for 9 hours, so washing clothes or being exposed to the sun for two hours meets the purpose of killing it.

 

We don’t know how long the virus can survive on fabric. There isn’t evidence that it can transmit from fabrics to people, though soiled clothing from Covid-19 patients should be washed normally.

Claim 1 of 7

We’ve seen a number of tweets showing graphics which make claims about the new coronavirus. The graphics have Unicef branding and are reportedly spreading on WhatsApp.

Unicef in the Philippines has said that the graphics are not from them. Most of the claims here are unevidenced or just plain false.

The claims seem to have been lifted from a Facebook post which we have checked before. The original text of the post, which has been edited since we first fact checked it, makes some of the same claims about the symptoms of Covid-19 and ways to prevent the disease.

It seems that at one point, MSN had an article on its website repeating the claims and attributing them to Unicef though the article has now been deleted.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) calls the disease itself Covid-19, and the virus that causes it SARS-CoV-2, and we will use that naming system here.

“Corona virus (Covid-19) is large in size where the cell diameter is 400-500 micro and for this reason any mask prevents its entry.”

The SARS-CoV-2 virus itself is around 50-200 nanometres wide. “Any mask” will not prevent you catching it. The WHO says masks are only effective when combined with regular hand washing. Viruses like this can enter through the eyes even if you’re wearing a mask.

“The virus does not settle in the air but is grounded so it is not transmitted by air.”

It’s not completely obvious what this means. The virus that causes Covid-19 certainly can spread through cough and sneeze droplets in the air, which can in turn enter someone else’s system.

“Corona virus lives on the hands for 10 minutes, so putting an alcohol sterililzer in the pocket meets the purpose of prevention.”

As we’ve said before, it’s not clear exactly how long the virus can ‘survive’ on your hands, especially not down to the minute. Using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser is a good way to prevent the virus from spreading, if washing your hands with soap and water isn’t possible.

“Corona virus when it falls on a metal surface, it will live 12 hours, so washing hands with soap and water well enough.”

We don’t know exactly how long the virus can last on surfaces yet. The WHO says “Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.

It’s still good advice to wash your hands regularly with soap and water.

“Gargle with warm and salt water kills the tonsils germs and prevents them from leaking into the lungs.”

As we’ve written about before, gargling with salt water is recommended by the NHS for adults who have a sore throat, but only to relieve symptoms once you have caught it, not as a preventative measure. The WHO has said that there’s no evidence saline can prevent Covid-19.

Other fact checkers have also written about this claim, which was attributed to respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan, a key figure during the SARS outbreak. The hospital where he worked debunked the rumour via a post on social media site Weibo.

“If the virus is exposed to a temperature of 26-27ºC. It will be killed, as it does not live in hot regions. Also drinking hot water and sun exposure will do the trick and staying away from ice cream and cold food is advised.”

We don’t yet know what temperatures the virus can withstand, but it’s worth noting that several of the countries with confirmed cases have warmer climates where the temperature can reach 27ºC. Sun exposure is therefore unlikely to protect you from or cure Covid-19. There’s no official advice from the NHS, WHO or CDC to stay away from cold food like ice cream or drink hot water to kill the virus.

“Coronavirus when it falls on the fabric remains 9 hours, so washing clothes or being exposed to the sun for two hours meets the purpose of killing it.”

We don’t know how long the new virus can last on fabric, especially this soon after it was discovered. In a blogpost, Harvard Medical School’s instructor in medicine Todd Ellerin writes: “So far, available evidence suggests it can be transmitted less easily from soft surfaces than frequently-touched hard surfaces.”

The CDC advises that soiled clothing from Covid-19 patients should be handled with disposable gloves, but can be washed using normal detergent. There’s absolutely no evidence that leaving clothes in the sun can kill the virus.