A fake coronavirus warning is causing panic after pranksters claimed eating noodles and going to the Sydney suburb of Newtown could give you the deadly disease.
Australians have been warned not to fall for the hoax, after a viral post online claimed popular foods and even whole Sydney suburbs were infected.
One viral post, claiming to be from the non-existent ‘Department of Diseasology in Parramatta’, warned against eating fortune cookies, Lipton ice tea or Wagyu beef.
It claimed the deadly disease, which has killed 106 people in China, was ‘spreading in the Greater Sydney region’ – which it is not.
Several Australians have been taken to hospitals as a precaution (pictured) but the disease is not ‘spreading across Sydney’ as has been claimed online
The hoax Facebook post (pictured) was shared thousands of times online, but NSW Health officials have since dismissed its claims
The hoaxer also said tests had found air was contaminated with coronavirus in Cabramatta, Burwood, Strathfield, Newtown, Chester Hill and Guildford.
Not only does the department not exist, but diseasology isn’t even a word.
But that didn’t stop thousands of Australian Facebook users sharing their concerns after reading the hoax.
The NSW Health Department warned residents to be vigilant with what they read online, dismissing all the viral post’s claims as a hoax.
Increasing public fear over the virus, which has been traced to the Chinese city of Wuhan, has seen a series of bizarre, fear-mongering claims spread on social media.
A Facebook user shared an email they had received full of fake, fear-mongering information about the coronavirus
Viral hoaxes online claimed several Asian foods were contaminated with coronavirus in Greater Sydney (stock image) which is not true
CORONAVIRUS IN AUSTRALIA
- Australia’s first confirmed case of coronavirus is a Chinese national in his 50s who tested positive in Melbourne on Saturday morning, after arriving on a flight from Guangzhou on January 19.
- Three more cases were confirmed on Saturday in NSW, with two people in isolation at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital.
- A fifth person, from Sydney, tested positive to ‘probable’ coronavirus after initial swabs.
- The patient was identified as a 21-year-old female student at UNSW who travelled from Wuhan to Sydney last Thursday, January 23.
- Australia has raised the travel alert level to ‘do not travel’ for the city of Wuhan – the epicentre of the outbreak – and for the entire Hubei province.
- Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says unless people have contact with someone who is unwell and has come from that part of China, there is no need for current concern.
Several childcare centres even re-posted the hoax on their social media pages.
An official warning read: ‘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.
‘This post has not originated from NSW Health or any related entity. Further, there is no such entity as the “Department of Diseasology Parramatta”.
‘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.’
Some Australians have also reported receiving a badly-spelled email claiming to be from a laboratory.
It advises bizarre methods of keeping safe from the disease, including ‘keeping your throat moist’.
The hoaxers recommended people drink ‘warm water’ and to ‘not go to crowded places’ until the end of March.
It comes as official advice from the Australian government urged people to reconsider any travel to China.
Officials also advised against any visit to Hubei Province as the country struggles to contain the deadly coronavirus epidemic.
Emma Wei (pictured) and her two children, from Melbourne, are just three of 400 Australians trapped in Wuhan amid China’s lockdown
The outbreak sweeping through China has the potential to become a pandemic in Australia – where five cases have been confirmed and several more are expected to emerge.
About 400 Australians remain trapped in the Hubei province, the epicentre of the deadly outbreak which has killed 106 people and infected more than 4,000.
Government website Smart Traveller updated its travel advice for China early on Wednesday morning.
‘Due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus we now advise you “reconsider your need to travel” to China overall and “do not travel” to Hubei Province,’ the Smart Traveller advice read.
Online pranksters claimed deadly coronavirus had been found in the air in the inner-Sydney suburb of Newtown (pictured)
More than 11 million people are stranded and unable to travel in or out of the region as China stepped up preventive measures to limit its spread.
The virus, which belongs to the same family as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), has spread to 17 countries.
No deaths have been reported outside of China so far.
Five people are being treated in Australian hospitals for the virus but Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said they were all in a stable condition.
Health Minister Greg Hunt warned the disease is of ‘pandemic potential’ and the number of cases in the country is expected to rise as more are tested every day.
Hoaxers online claimed Cabramatta (pictured), 30km south-west of Sydney’s CBD, had been infected with coronavirus
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE CORONAVIRUS?
Once someone has caught the virus it may take between two and 14 days for them to show any symptoms.
If and when they do, typical signs include:
- a runny nose
- a cough
- sore throat
- fever (high temperature)
The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia.
Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.