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Coronavirus memes and tweets you should be sharing to combat fake news

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Kayleigh Dray
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Coronavirus tweets and memes to share

Because, just sometimes, memes really can prevent the spread of misinformation.

Updated on 24 March 2020: Every single day brings new coronavirus headlines – some of which are genuine, some of which are not quite so genuine. However, the NHS is working hard to prevent the spread of #fakenews and misinformation.

According to new reports, more than 6,650 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the UK, but the actual number of cases is estimated to be much higher. The number of deaths is now at 335. 

As such, Boris Johnson has declared a “national emergency” and called a lockdown. As of 24 March, people may only leave home to exercise once a day, to travel to and from work where “absolutely necessary”, to shop for essential items, and to fulfil any medical or care needs.

Shops selling non-essential goods have been told to shut and gatherings in public of more than two people who do not live together will be prohibited.

Naturally, the sense of panic is palpable: all you need do is look at the empty toilet roll shelves at your local supermarket to realise that. People are ignoring health advice given by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – which basically boils down to, “wash your hands, dispose of tissues immediately, practice good basic hygiene” – and instead are sharing dubious home remedies they’ve found on social media.

And that’s why the NHS has teamed up with Google, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to tackle the spread of coronavirus misinformation.

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Social media sites are now directing UK users to the official NHS website if they search for coronavirus.

Sir Simon Stevens, the health service’s chief executive, told Sky News: “The NHS has already been battling coronavirus fake news, from working to take down false Twitter accounts to speaking out against misleading treatments being promoted by homeopaths online.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock added that the NHS strategy will prove crucial in enabling the public to “access reliable, accurate health information” as the outbreak grows.

It’s also worth noting, though, that many coronavirus memes are doing their part to stop #fakenews in its tracks.

With that in mind, here are the posts and tweets you should be sharing in the fight against misinformation.

  • On Covid-19 quarantine

    We have to stay indoors to save our country, essentially. Follow the rules, folks!

  • On working from home

    It’s funny what you learn about people, isn’t it? Again: stay indoors.

  • On your daily exercise quota

    You get to go out once for your daily exercise. Once. So don’t push it, folks…

  • A note on hand sanitiser

    A pharmacist named Brooke has taken to Twitter to remind people that hand sanitiser ain’t all that.

    “I sell hand sanitiser for a living, or I do when any exists,” she writes, in the first of an eight-post thread. “Like masks, it is sold the fuck out everywhere.

    “SHOULD YOU BE WORRIED? No. Use soap.

    “SHOULD YOU VISIT 20 PHARMACIES LOOKING FOR THE LAST BOTTLE? No. Pharmacies are full of sick people.”

    You can read her Twitter thread in full here.

  • Why does soap work so well against viruses?

    Palli Thordarson, a professor at the University of New South Wales School of Chemistry, took to Twitter for a 25-part thread about exactly what happens when water and soap hit your hands. And it is a fascinating read.

    “Water is not very effective alone in washing the virus off our hands,” he says. “Alcohol based product work better. But nothing beats soap – the virus detaches from the skin and falls apart very readily in soapy water.”

    Check out the full Twitter thread in all its glory here.

  • So let’s wash those hands…

    … Shakespeare-style, obviously.

  • Or, for those who prefer music, try these 90s hand-washing songs on for size

    Anyone else have an urge to head to their nearest sink and belt out Spice Girls’ Wannabe? No? Just us then.

  • Don’t forget to wipe down other surfaces

    The indomitable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has reminded us that, in addition to washing our hands, we should also make sure we’re wiping down:

    • Doors
    • Light switches
    • Smartphones
    • Arm rests
    • Car/bike handles
    • And anything your hands touch regularly!

    Good point, AOC. Very good point.

  • And please try to stop touching your face

    We reckon we need one of these awards too, Nicola Coughlan.

  • Like, seriously. Please, please try to stop touching your face.

    In case we haven’t made it clear enough already, one of the most frequently recommended health tips to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus is to avoid touching your face. Watch the above scene from the movie Contagion and think about that, will you?

  • Think about how you’re greeting people

    Forget handshakes and kisses: the World Health Organisation has suggested you try a wave, a nod or a bow instead.

  • Do face masks work?

    We’ll let the NHS field this one (although you can check out our piece on ‘The truth behind the coronavirus headlineshere).

    “Face masks play an important role in places like hospitals, but there is little evidence to show that they are beneficial in public settings,” the organisation has tweeted via its official page, alongside a helpful information video.

    You can find it here

  • Memes are funny, but stop making jokes about celebrities getting coronavirus

    Jameela Jamil is currently being taunted by more than a dozen Twitter users who are joking about her getting coronavirus, but she has made it abundantly clear that she isn’t going to sit back and take it.

    “If you’re gonna make a joke about how I am going to be the first actress with coronavirus, ya late and ya basic,” she wrote on Twitter, sharing screenshots of each of the trolls’ posts. “Joking about my mental and physical health doesn’t hurt me as much as other more vulnerable people with chronic illness/invisible disability/actual munchausens.”     

  • And, on that note, stop crowing over the fact that “only the old and sick” are at risk

    As author Ally Carter puts it: “I see a lot of people being like ‘I would survive the Coronavirus. I’m taking my chances.’

    “The way I see it, yeah. I’d survive it. But I might carry it to someone who wouldn’t. And that, folks, is the problem.”

  • Is Trump spreading fake news like nobody’s business?

    Abso-bloody-lutely. 

  • So please be careful who you take advice from

    Look to the NHS and, y’know, actual medical experts for coronavirus facts. Thanks.

    Please note: Nigel Farage’s autobiography describes his time at Dulwich college from 1975 to 1982. He left the public school with few if any O-levels – accounts vary.

  • Can dogs spread the coronavirus?

    Everyone saw the reports about that one dog testing a “weak positive” for COVID-19. WHO, though, has said that “there is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus that causes COVID-19.”      

  • Watch out for those hand-dryers

    Shake it off, shake it off.

  • Are public gatherings a bad idea?

    The NHS has said that you only need to stay away from public places if advised to by the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or a medical professional. Life can otherwise continue on as normal for smurfs, humans and, of course, humans dressed as smurfs – just be mindful of your hygiene within these surroundings.

  • Should parliament shut down until this whole thing blows over?

    We’ll let Jess Phillips handle this one.

    “Closing down parliament would make very little difference to the spread of Covid-19,” she tweets.

    “It adds weight to the idea of the pointlessness of our institutions that erodes democracy and would cause needless panic. If hospitals and schools stay open, so can we.”

  • Here’s a timely reminder about blood donations

    “Coronavirus tests are not done with blood,” reads this tweet from @GiveBloodNHS. “There is no evidence coronaviruses can be passed on through blood donation.

    “Donors are unpaid heroes who do it to help others.”

    The post finishes: “If you think you might be ill, follow EXPERT advice – not scaremongering – and go to NHS 111 online.”

  • Now, let’s talk about stockpiling

    As one (savage) social media user puts it: “Every day’s a school day! Last night someone told me about a really quick new way to calculate your IQ. It’s 150 minus the number of loo rolls you’ve stockpiled this week.”

  • Think about what you look like when you’re buying 36 toilet rolls

    That’s right: a nervous, bulging-cheeked hamster.

  • In fact, just THINK before you panic-buy

    “Just been to the supermarket and saw a very elderly lady looking worried because she can’t find any aspirin,” reads one tweet, which has been shared almost 1,000 times.

    “She pleaded with the assistant that it helps ease her arthritis and looked tearful. This is what panic-buying does, creates mass hysteria and our vulnerable are suffering.”

  • Try not to spread hysteria or #fakenews

    As previously reported by Stylist, Dr Abdu Sharkawy’s post about coronavirus-induced hysteria has been shared over 1.7 million times on Facebook alone. Is it any wonder, then, that it’s doing the rounds on Twitter, too?

  • And, finally, a cold hard dose of reality

    “To those who now have 28 packages of pasta. To those who are searching the black market for hand sanitiser. To those who walk around with a facemask. To those who are planning to flee corona-infected areas…

    “Never again look down on those who flee from war and famine.”

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Originally published on 12 March.

Lead image design: Alessia Armenise

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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