Dudley NHS says local coronavirus rumours are false

Local NHS organisation Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has said rumours of a case of the coronavirus at a Brierley Hill GP surgery are untrue.

Speculation began circulating on social media (Tuesday) that a case of Covid-19 had been discovered at Albion House Surgery on Albion Road after patients reported that the surgery had been placed on “lockdown” for a period of time, reported by some to be around two hours.

But a statement from Dudley CCG said: “We are aware of social media posts in relation to Albion House Surgery and a suspected Coronavirus case. We would like to confirm that the practice is open as usual and we are not currently testing anyone for the virus.”

The statement was also posted on the website of AW Surgery which operates the Albion Road practice.

But neither the surgery nor the CCG has confirmed or commented on the reasons behind the lockdown.

It comes days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged social media companies to take tougher action to combat fake news on the coronavirus, describing it as an "infodemic".

Andrew Pattison, the organisation's digital business solutions manager, met with technology companies at Facebook's headquarters in California, warning that false information was "spreading faster than the virus".

Numerous falsehoods have circulated online that the virus can be cured with garlic, or vitamin C. More fake news suggested that the virus could be treated by dabbing a cotton bud with strong vinegar, with the bud then pushed into the nostrils, while another claim to be dismissed was that the virus could be stopped in its tracks using a drug usually given during treatment for HIV.

Another claim said people could protect themselves from Covid-19 by rinsing their mouths with salt water, which the WHO dismissed.

The WHO has also expressed concern over fake stories about the spread of the virus. Social media posts circulated in France claiming that people in several parts of the country near to Paris, Lyon, Perpignan and an area between Toulouse and Bordeaux, had contracted the disease, which was found to be false.

The outbreak originated in Wuhan, in Hubei province, in China - a city with a population of 11 million people. But another fake news story claimed the entire population of the city were all highly likely to die from the virus.

Elsewhere, a video posted on Facebook claiming to show animals being sold at the market in Wuhan which is thought to be the source of the outbreak was later found to be a video of a market in Indonesia, filmed last summer.

Various conspiracy theories are also in circulation, including one alleging that the virus was planted deliberately so a pharmaceutical firm could take advantage of a patent for a coronavirus vaccine. But, in reality, this patent was filed in 2015 by the Pirbright Institute in Surrey, and covers the development of a vaccine to prevent a different strain of the virus in birds and other animals.

Other more bizarre conspiracies have even attributed the spread of the virus to a plot concocted by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

It has also been claimed - falsely - that the disease originated from someone eating 'bat soup'. In reality, although it is believed bats may have been the initial source, this has not been conclusively proven.

Scientists are working on the theory that bat droppings carrying the virus may have been passed on to another animal searching for food, which has then passed the virus on to other wildlife nearby, with an infected animal eventually being captured by someone who has then become infected themselves. The theory is that this person has then passed the virus on to workers at the market in Wuhan.

Efforts by scientists to establish whether this theory is correct are ongoing.

In the UK, people are being urged to rely on official announcements from the NHS and the Government.

Dudley CCG has said people should visit gov.uk/coronavirus to get the latest guidance and information, with the latest advice about foreign travel also available from the same website.

The CCG is also urging people concerned about the symptoms of Coronavirus to call the NHS non-emergency helpline on 111.


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