Here’s what we know.
More than 80 people have now died after contracting coronavirus, all in China.
According to reports most of the victims were either middle-aged or elderly. Official records state that, as of about 1pm on Monday, 2,744 were confirmed to have been infected.
At the time of writing, it had been confirmed that 73 people had been tested for coronavirus in the UK. All of the tests had come back negative.
The virus is believed to have originated in a market in Wuhan and, just as lunar new year celebrations were set to get underway on Saturday, tens of millions of people in Hubei province found their cities in lockdown.
Festivities were cancelled and major tourist destinations were shut across the country, transport systems were cut off, and people living in the restricted cities were asked not to leave unless under exceptional circumstances.
Yet with each passing hour social media has been bombarded with pictures and videos that purport to show an extreme situation – citizens collapsing in the streets, corpses lying in hospital corridors, medical staff breaking down.
The sheer rate at which new reports are emerging from China creates huge problems when it comes to measuring their authenticity.
But among all the noise, some clear lines of disinformation have emerged. Here they are – and the reasons you shouldn’t believe them.
1. The coronavirus outbreak was manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry to flog a vaccine.
With so little knowledge about where the coronavirus had come from, conspiracy theories about its origins were given plenty of space to germinate.
In particular, the idea that the virus was deliberately circulated in order to force people to buy a vaccine found popularity among those on the internet looking desperately for a source.
One of the most widely-shared tweets comes from YouTuber Jordan Sather, who on Wednesday described coronavirus as a “fad disease”, adding “funny enough, there was a patent for the coronavirus was [sic] filed in 2015 and granted in 2018”.
The new fad disease called the “coronavirus” is sweeping headlines.
Funny enough, there was a patent for the coronavirus was filed in 2015 and granted in 2018.https://t.co/qqKRSptDgf
— Jordan Sather (@Jordan_Sather_) January 22, 2020
Was the release of this disease planned?
Is the media being used to incite fear around it?
Is the Cabal desperate for money, so they’re tapping their Big Pharma reserves?
Are there vaccines already being manufactured to “fight” this?
Coordinated all along?
— Jordan Sather (@Jordan_Sather_) January 22, 2020
Sather is affiliated with QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory group revolving around an alleged “deep state” plot against Donald Trump.
His questions about coronavirus have been seized upon by those keen to believe in a cover-up around the disease.
Even a focused search for just the phrase “coronavirus patent” reveals hundreds of tweets raising suspicions.
From anti-vaxxers to Trump supporters claiming the virus is a tactic to disrupt the US president’s re-election campaign, the theory that the virus was purposefully spread in the wake of a patent being granted on a vaccine has been shared over and over online.
Except it isn’t true.
Yes, there is a patent: it was filed by the Surrey-based Purbright Institute, a research centre monitoring viruses in farm animals, and viruses that spread from animals to humans.
Addressing the misinformation spread about the patent, Purbright has released a lengthy statement on its website which clarifies that its coronavirus research extends to viruses affecting poultry and pigs – not the variation that has emerged in humans.
“The patented work was not funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” the statement makes clear.
It’s important to remember that coronavirus isn’t one disease – it’s a group of viruses. The current coronavirus, believed to have originated in Wuhan, is the seventh identified type.
The reason the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is being dragged into this, incidentally, traces back to its listing on the Pirbright Institute’s website as a “major stakeholder”. By the end of 2018, the foundation – which supports a multitude of projects spanning the globe – had paid out more than $50b (£38m) in grants.
There’s also the small matter of the fact no vaccine has yet emerged, but there’s no reason to let facts get in the way of a good misinformation campaign.
2. 112,000 people have died, and more than 2m have been infected.
One of the more popular suggestions to have surfaced online is that the Chinese government has vastly suppressed the true numbers of people infected and killed, with “estimates” of the dead reaching over 100,000 according to some conspiracy theorists.
This has been picked up on a number of online forums, including Twitter and Reddit – bolstered by reports from disreputable media figures such as far-right American radio show host Hal Turner.
In a report published on his website, Turner claims that 112,100 have been killed, and 2.3m infected.
Worryingly, this report has gained traction online and appears to have been shared both by fellow conspiracy-theorists and perhaps genuinely concerned citizens.
This guy is reporting 2.8 million infected. 100k dead. If this report is accurate governments across the world need to be implementing drastic measures to contain this: https://t.co/Sxzdmo0QIw
— Jared Tate ©️ (@jaredctate) January 24, 2020
Turner has been widely referred to as a neo-Nazi and, according to reports, has previously incited violence against Black people and immigrants.
The South China Morning Post reported in November that another of Hal’s “reports” – of an explosion in the South China sea – could not be verified and appeared to be entirely false.
The false report was published on the website side of his radio show, with the first line stating: “The outbreak of an alleged new coronavirus in China is completely out of control, and is killing THOUSANDS every day.”
Whilst each day has brought new reports of deaths within the country, there is no suggestion from any credible publication that total deaths have reached 100, let alone the “thousands”.
The article continues: “The thousands of dead are being taken directly to incinerators. No funeral. No burial. Just burned. Intel is getting its actual Death counts directly from the incinerator operators!”
No source is given for this information, and it has not been corroborated by any authority.
The report also states that: “The new virus is different from SARS, in that it causes rapid kidney failure.”
In reality, it has been widely reported that the deaths have followed a bout of pneumonia triggered by the virus.
3. The virus spread as a result of people eating bat soup
The formation of this new strain of coronavirus is still little-understood – but what scientists do know is that the first human cases of infection were likely to have started in a market in Wuhan.
China has suspended the trade of all wild animals due to fears the viral illness was transmitted to humans via animals sold in the market.
A number of publications, including the Sun and the Daily Mail, published a video of an influencer eating bat soup, referring to the dish as “gruesome” and “revolting”.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before Twitter users were taking the connection with bats and running with it – in some cases falling back on language that others criticised as racist.
“When you eat bats and bamboo rats and shit and call it a ‘Chinese delicacy’”, one account wrote.
“All I got to say is them folks will eat any damn thing,” wrote another.
What in D hell is going on.
So reports are coming out of China that the Corona Virus either started from the Fruit Bat Soup or the Sweet & Sour Civet Cat.
All I got to say is them folks will eat any damn thing. pic.twitter.com/wFRTgs0Xha
— MIKEB 🇺🇸 Black American Certified D.O.A.S. (@mbunchen) January 24, 2020
Both articles cite a study reportedly carried out by Chinese Academy of Sciences, the People’s Liberation Army and Institut Pasteur of Shanghai, which they say states: “The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats […] but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate.”
A summary of the research on the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai says of the most recent strain of coronavirus: “It is likely that their natural host is bat.”
Though a number of western newspapers linked this research to the bat soup, it does not appear that the scientists themselves made this connection.
As for the much-publicised clip of the woman eating the bat soup itself, its host – Chinese influencer Wang Mengyun – has now been forced to apologise for apparently promoting the animals as a delicacy.
She claims she ate the soup in 2016 while hosting an online travel programme – years before the first signs of the current virus emerged at the end of 2019.
Furthermore she says she wasn’t even in Wuhan, or China at all, when she ate the bat. The clip was reportedly filmed in the South Pacific island of Palau.
4. China is digging mass graves
It was revealed on Friday that China was building two huge hospitals entirely from scratch in order to deal with the virus, the first of which would be finished within a matter of days.
Dramatic pictures of dozens of cranes frantically working to level the ground before construction began were circulated online immediately, and China was praised by many for taking swift action to ease the pressure on medical staff.
It’s been widely noted that hospitals are struggling at capacity, and reports state that one doctor has died after contracting the virus.
But the images of the huge area of land being cleared by diggers has been interpreted by some online as showing an altogether darker picture – with claims of “mass graves” being dug instead.
Or are they digging mass graves? “China builds 1,000-bed coronavirus hospital in Wuhan at the epicenter of the outbreak” https://t.co/O9Des2ws0q
— carltonAdams (@realadamcarlson) January 25, 2020
Construction on a hospital was underway today in Wuhan, China, to treat coronavirus patients [see image]
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Is it just me, or does that look more like they are preparing mass graves in advance ?
Dr. Patrick R. Mullen
Widowed Scientist pic.twitter.com/6lw46hfiBv
— Dr. Patrick R. Mullen (@prmullen69) January 24, 2020
There has been absolutely no credible evidence offered that this is in fact the case, and further details about the hospitals have continued to emerge.
The first facility is due to have 1,000 beds, whilst the second – also in Wuhan – will have 1,300. Both will reportedly be finished within three weeks.
A fifth case of a new coronavirus was confirmed in Australia on Monday, with health officials saying the case involved a 21-year-old woman who was on the last flight out of the Chinese city of Wuhan to Sydney before China imposed a travel ban.
The coronavirus, believed to have originated in a wildlife market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed 80 people, all of them in China, and infected more than 2,700, the vast majority in China.
The woman travelled on a direct flight to Sydney from Wuhan and developed symptoms within 24 hours and went to an emergency department, New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters.
Australia’s first four cases were confirmed on Saturday, with one in Melbourne and three in Sydney, with Australian foreign minister Marise Payne saying the government were looking closely at what was possible for people still in the province.
Photos of Kobe Bryant coaching his daughter Gianna’s basketball team the day before the two died in a helicopter crash showed the Lakers legend in full mentor mode.The pics feature Bryant instructing his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and Lady Mamba…
Critics continued to erupt Sunday following a video post of Donald Trump’s controversial spiritual adviserPaula White preaching for all “Satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now.”
“In the name of Jesus, we command all Satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now,” White, a Florida televangelist, said in a video of the Jan. 5 sermon posted Friday on Twitter by Right Wing Watch. She declared that “strange winds … sent to hurt the church … sent against our president, sent against myself … we break it by the superior blood of Jesus right now.”
After an uproar ensued, White insisted Sunday in a tweet she was speaking metaphorically, and praying for evil — or satanic — plans to be destroyed, not for actual miscarriages.
But for those who understand English, White’s apparent call for miscarriage was a startling kind of “spell” from someone who purports to be anti-abortion. Since November, White has served as special adviser to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative.
Some noted on Twitter that evangelicals call all babies gifts from God. Others wondered whether White would support the abortion of a satanic pregnancy.
It was also unclear what constituted a satanic pregnancy. Did parents have to be members of some satanic church — or just Democrats, some wondered. White has characterized “enemies” of Trump as aligned with evil.
The Church of Satan, which regularly demands religious parity for followers’ beliefs, tweeted to White that asking her “imaginary friend” to terminate someone else’s pregnancy against their will is “pretty messed up.”
The White House did not respond to requests for comment. Trump attended the anti-abortion March for Life in Washington the same day the White sermon video was posted.
The President’s spiritual advisor seems to be casting a spell for women to have miscarriages.
Is that what evangelicals do now?
— Griz (@grizatlcp) January 26, 2020
No pregnancies are satanic. Every child is a gift from God. No one should ever pray for any woman to miscarry. No one should ever pray for evil or harm to befall another person. Jesus asked us to pray for our persecutors, not to curse them. To love our neighbors as ourselves. https://t.co/EZq9BwLV0v
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) January 26, 2020
Someone please ask Paula to explain the following: to be pro life you assume the baby is an innocent soul. Here, Paula is saying pregnancies are satanic and should die. How does Paula know people aren’t aborting satanic pregnancies? She is a heretic. A full blown heretic.
— CHOOSE HUMANITY 👑🌞🕊🌹 (@MB_LMMOG) January 26, 2020
I want to point something out.
Christians are supposed to love unconditionally. Jesus said to love all.
This shows me otherwise.
And the idea that a woman who would use her position for something like this would have the ear of a world leader for an instant disgusts me.
— Amy Smith (@fireheather) January 26, 2020
Paula White has said that anyone who opposes Trump is satanic. So she’s essentially just wishing any pregnant woman who is not a Trump supporter miscarries. How pro-life of her….
— Em (@emsawarrior) January 26, 2020
Southern Baptist theologian and ethicist Russell D. Moore said that “Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe.“
— Griffin (@Griffin9c) January 26, 2020
Every pregnancy is sacred apart from those that are “satanic”. They can just go ahead and miscarry: a pretty vile thing to say in a world where women do miscarry.
This woman is a regular visitor to the White House, and advises Trump on “faith”.
Welcome back to medieval times. https://t.co/efsCY9K1lN
— Michael Marshall Smith (@ememess) January 26, 2020
I think that there is a more effective way to spread Jesus’ name than to suggest that he would have wanted certain women to miscarry their children. Miscarriages hurt a lot and I don’t think that as mere mortals, any mortal should be wishing that for another mortal. Good night❤️
— Shinjini (@SpeakerShinjini) January 26, 2020
I know this is real but I’m having a difficult time accepting it as reality.
Are there seriously people who follow this craziness? Who think this woman is a decent, truthful person who knows God?
Have they ever read the teachings of Jesus?
Do they have any sense of goodness?
— hypatia (@holdavision) January 26, 2020
The 1933 Headline in the New York Times:
400,000 Germans to be Sterilized.
1700 Hereditary Health Courts Will Start Judging Cases of Alleged Unfit Jan. 1
Cardinal is to Protest
Questionnaire to Determine Idiocy asks about Form of State and Moral Views
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) January 26, 2020
I’m very much trying to control my anger. We the taxpayers provide for a criminal family working against the US. We provide the salary for a press secretary that only tweets or goes on Trump Propaganda News network. We provide the salary for this revolting excuse for an adviser.
— OceanGirl🌍🌎🌏🇺🇸🇦🇺🇬🇧🇮🇪 (@Salacia_sea) January 26, 2020
Seems as though Evangelical Christians aren’t as pro-life as they purport to be. May be an abortion loophole for the Christian Right?
“Dr., I need an abortion because this is a Satanic Baby”
— Rise of the Alien Queen (@rise_alien) January 26, 2020
Isn’t she part of the crowd that says that all pregnancies are a gift from god even the ones from rape? God is going to be pissed off that she is getting the message to the rubes all confused and shit. #TaxAllChurches if any woman has a miscarriage after this can they sue her?
— UncleTummy (@UncleTummyTX) January 26, 2020
Satanic pregnancies are a thing? How did I not know this?
— Kim Brill (@Kim_Brill) January 26, 2020
The Christianity of Jesus left people with more dignity and greater care; with healed wounds and fuller bellies, with calmed fears and quieted worries. It left a wake of generosity and compassion.
No, this isn’t Christianity.
To hell with what this is.https://t.co/6TEMskvjS3
— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) January 26, 2020
This is what true possession looks like.
— Steve Blum (@blumspew) January 26, 2020
I wonder if she’s pregnant. 🤔
— Kerry McNasty ™ (@kerrymcnasty) January 26, 2020
Warning! This article contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Doctor Who.
Doctor Who has revealed its first-ever Black incarnation of The Doctor, portrayed by actor Jo Martin.
Sunday night’s Fugitive of the Judoon episode involved the Judoon – a band of rhino-like mercenary cops from space – chasing down a fugitive on Earth.
Viewers saw the current Doctor, portrayed by Jodie Whittaker (the first female incarnation of the character) stepped in to protect their target, a tour guide named Ruth Clayton.
However, Ruth wasn’t a tour guide at all.
She’s The Doctor.
The Time Lord can regenerate when mortally wounded, giving the character a new face and new life, via a new actor. Jodie officially became the 13th after taking over from Peter Capaldi at the end of 2017.
In this case, Jo Martin is not taking over the role but instead seems to be part of the series’ latest story arc surrounding the destruction of The Doctor’s home planet of Gallifrey.
And fans quickly took to social media to celebrate the moment.
Dear @bbcdoctorwho@DoctorWho_BBCA Thank you for finally giving a Black nerd and other black nerdy adults and kids a Doctor who looks like us. You really dont know how monumental this was and how much it made me cry. Please don’t let her be the only one ever. #DoctorWho
— UzamakiJ (@UzamakiJ) January 27, 2020
…..oh my GOD. Oh my GOD. IM A BLACK FEMALE. WHO WATCHES DOCTOR WHO. IM— SHES-
— himbothée chalamet (@spanishrat) January 27, 2020
i haven’t really watched doctor who since clara left but like. weaving a black female doctor into the mythology like this???? LOVING IT SO HARD WOW……….. 😭💖😭💖😭💖
— juno 🦇🌻💖 (@zamothac) January 27, 2020
/!\ SPOILER DOCTOR WHO SEASON 12 /!\
i’m still not over the fact that the fugitive of the judoon gave us back jack harkness and gave us another doctor who’s a black woman and i’m so emo it’s awesome
— milly 📚 (@myosothys) January 27, 2020
OKKKKKKK I haven’t watched Doctor Who since Matt Smith but YALL i am gonna have to come thru for a Black woman doctor??? I have to, and captain jack is back???
— incredibly underwhelming (@vegtaco) January 27, 2020
While it’s not yet clear where Jo’s incarnation sits in the timeline, it’s implied she is an earlier Doctor ― perhaps prior to William Hartnell’s original.
However, Jodie’s incarnation clearly has no recollection of Jo’s form.
One thing is clear, given the nature of the show: the new Doctor will almost certainly turn up again.
Given the tight-lipped nature of the show’s production, Jo had to keep a lid on her character… until last night, when she updated her Twitter pic in celebration:
A Doctor outside of the official numbered timeline is not without precedent.
In 2013, in celebration of the show’s 50th anniversary, acclaimed actor John Hurt portrayed an incarnation known as the War Doctor in a crossover episode that included both David Tennant’s 10th Doctor and Matt Smith’s 11th.
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The BBC has apologised after a report on the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant on its flagship news programme featured a clip of LeBron James.
The helicopter crash that killed the NBA superstar and his 13-year-old daughter was the lead story on the News at Ten on Sunday.
As the piece reflected on the former LA Laker’s prestigious career, the report featured James in action rather than Bryant.
James currently plays for the Lakers, and this weekend overtook Bryant, who retired in 2016, as the third highest all-time NBA points scorer.
it literally says James on the jersey! What an absolute disgrace
— Sarah Manavis (@sarahmanavis) January 26, 2020
Dear @BBCNews … that was LeBron James in your Ten o’clock News piece not Kobe Bryant
— Mark Austin (@markaustintv) January 26, 2020
A tribute to Kobe Bryant from the BBC used footage of Lebron James because fuck checking the name on the back of a jersey. All the bullshit I’ve seen today is why I am utterly ashamed of my profession. There are no standards anymore. pic.twitter.com/C0HD9HmAjH
— Richard Lewis (@RLewisReports) January 26, 2020
An on-air apology for the error came later in the broadcast and Paul Royall, editor of the BBC News Ten, took to Twitter to say “human error” was the reason for falling below “our usual standards”.
He wrote: “In tonight’s coverage of the death of Kobe Bryant on #BBCNewsTen we mistakenly used pictures of LeBron James in one section of the report.
“We apologise for this human error which fell below our usual standards on the programme.”
In tonight’s coverage of the death of Kobe Bryant on #BBCNewsTen we mistakenly used pictures of LeBron James in one section of the report. We apologise for this human error which fell below our usual standards on the programme.
— Paul Royall (@paulroyall) January 26, 2020
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist, died alongside his daughter Gianna in the incident in California on Sunday morning.
Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva said nine people, including the pilot, had died in the crash but was awaiting the coroner’s report before confirming any identities as it would be “inappropriate” to do so.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement: “The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.
“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals.
“But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organisation and the entire sports world.”
Bryant, born in Philadelphia in 1978, is widely regarded as one of the greatest players to appear in the NBA and spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
He was drafted in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets at number 13, but was quickly traded to the Lakers where he would go on to become an 18-time NBA All-Star.
Alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant helped the Lakers win three NBA championships in a row between 2000 and 2002. It is a feat that has not been matched since, with the Golden State Warriors losing in last year’s finals having won two in a row.