A viral WhatsApp forward claiming India's health ministry has issued an emergency notification to the public on the prevention of the Coronavirus, is a hoax.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has so far only issued a travel advisory for people travelling to and fro China, the epicenter of the 2019-novel Coronavirus.
The message, which advises people to always keep their throats moist and avoid public places till March 2020, among other things, is viral on Whatsapp as well as Facebook.
BOOM received the below message on its WhatsApp helpline number from multiple users asking us to verify the same.
This same message is also viral on Facebook with many Indian users sharing the message as a notification of public emergency by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The viral message is not an advisory from India's health ministry. India has so far only issued a travel advisory to China and guidelines to tackle Coronavirus for healthcare providers.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a travel advisory on January 17, 2020. This was further updated on January 25, 2020 after the increase in the number of deaths in China and the spread of the disease to many other nations. The ministry also started an additional helpline (011-23978046) for Indian citizens who showed any signs or symptoms such as fever, runny nose, and continuous cough and cold.
The advisory also stated methods of prevention and precaution such as maintaining personal hygiene, wearing masks, and avoiding contact with people who are ill.
Along with this advisory, the ministry has issued a 264 page document for healthcare providers to address any cases and carry out an effective management of the healthcare services.
The ministry advisory does not mention anything related to the throat or avoiding crowded places till a certain month.
Also Read: Coronavirus In China: India On Alert
On its official Twitter handle the ministry has shared preventive measures recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Health experts have advised using masks to prevent the transmission of particles in the air as the current Coronavirus is known to be an air-borne transmission. Along with this, none of the research or advisories from any country mention about a dry throat or drinking only a certain amount of water.
Furthermore, India does not use the cubic centimetre (cc) unit of measurement for measuring water. This is a US metric of measurement. BOOM also searched for these specific terms of 'water' and 'March 2020' on the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the apex health body in the USA. The CDC guidelines use the word water only in the reference of hand-washing and using it for bleaching purposes.
The message also states that people should not be in crowded areas till March 2020. As the origin of the novel Coronavirus is still unidentified, it is difficult to assign a time to understand the impact and existence of this virus. There is a possibility that scientists could deduce the source of the virus and its appropriate antidote before March 2020.
Coronavirus has also so far not been associated to spicy food or vitamin C deficiency. Even this claim has no scientific backing.
The message also states that children are vulnerable to the disease. However, there are very few children who have been affected by the virus. As even seen in the Severely Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), children were least affected in these diseases, as this Foreign Policy article observes.
The novel virus has led to over 100 deaths in China. At the time of writing this article, India did not have a single confirmed case of the virus.