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Viral ‘Unicef’ message about preventing coronavirus infection a mix of truths and half-truths

A viral message supposedly from Unicef – the United Nations Children’s Fund – carries several claims about the new coronavirus that causes the disease Covid-19. These range from the “large” size of the virus to how long it can survive on surfaces, and what to do to prevent it. The message, which appears to be a Whatsapp screenshot, has been spotted on social media networks across Africa, including in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. Covid-19 has so far been confirmed in seven African countries. As of Friday 6 March 2020 there have been 3,383 deaths globally, while 98,387 people have been sickened, according to daily mapping by the centre for systems science and engineering at John Hopkins University.

It is not all doom and gloom however – 55,441 people have recovered.

The message is poorly written, a red flag that it may not be from Unicef. The agency confirmed this. “The claims are not from Unicef” a spokesperson, Geoffrey Nkoku, told Africa Check. (You can read Unicef’s refutation of this message here, and it’s call to share only accurate information around the coronavirus.) There is a lot that is unknown about Covid-19. Our team in Nigeria, where there has been one confirmed case, asked both the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and experts about the claims in the message.

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*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.

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