An information note attributed to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has been circulating on social networks for the past few days. The document contains a set of “information” about the current coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic that has already officially infected 10 people in Cameroon.
“The Coronavirus is large with a cell diameter of 400 to 500 micro, so any mask prevents its entry; the virus is not deposited in the air, but on the ground, so it is not transmitted through the air; the Coronavirus, when it falls on a metal surface, will live for 12 hours,” the note says. But it is a fake document attributed to Unicef. “This briefing note is fake. We have denied it for a while,” says Salomon Marie Joseph Beguel, one of UNICEF Cameroon's communication officers.
To highlight the false information it contains, Unicef-Cameroon refers to an article on the organization's website, according to which Covid-19 is a new virus from the same family as those that cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and certain types of common colds.
And contrary to the claims on the document in circulation, the virus is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets produced by an infected person (when coughing or sneezing) and through contact with surfaces contaminated with the virus. The Covid-19 virus can survive on surfaces for several hours, but simple disinfectants can kill it.
Moreover, the UN body says, the use of a mask alone is not enough to stop infections and must be combined with other measures: frequent hand washing, covering the mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing, and avoiding close contact with people with cold or flu-like symptoms (coughing, sneezing and fever).