Coronavirus: Italy sees Rapid Spread of Fake News


As Italy grapples withthe coronavirus outbreak, misinformation about how to respond to thevirus is also spreading.

We’ve been looking atsome of the stories that have gone viral in the country, and whetherthere’s any truth in them.

1. The Military are on the Streets of Italy

A video which wasposted on Twitter, showing military vehicles on the streets, waswatched more than 250,000 times. It originally said the vehicles werein the southern city of Foggia, but it later corrected this toPalermo in Sicily.

This tweet and others, linked the presence of the military vehicles to prison disturbances in Palermo this week after restrictions were announced on prison visits as part of measures to tackle coronavirus.


It’s true that themilitary were on the streets in Palermo, but their presence wasn’tconnected to the prison disturbances.

The Italian militaryhave confirmed that the vehicles belonged to the 6th Lancieri d’Aostaregiment, stationed in Palermo.

They were returning from a military exercise in Sardinia and were not deployed to deal with unrest among prisoners, nor for any other reason related to the coronavirus.

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2. A False Claim About a Vaccine you can Buy in Italy

This false claimsurfaced in an Italian leaflet which was reportedly distributed toshops and homes in one particular area of the Venice region.

It said the vaccinewas created in Australia to combat Covid-19, and the only country inthe world to have bought it is Switzerland.

It claimed that takingsix doses of the vaccine would give protection from the virus for ayear, and was available for 50 euros via an email address given inthe leaflet.

There is, however, no vaccine available anywhere in the world, and realistically one won’t be ready until at least the middle of next year, says James Gallagher, BBC Health and Science correspondent.

One Italian fact-checking site which picked up on the story said “a vaccine does not exist, but what does exist are people who enjoy spreading lies.”


3. The Lemon Juice Myth in Italy

Misleading information about other ways to prevent the virus has also been circulating on social media.

This includes aresearcher said to be from Zanjan University in China, saying youshould take as much vitamin C as possible to protect yourself fromthe virus.

This was published in a news portal known as, whose metrics say their article has been viewed over 576,000 times and gathered over 30,000 shares.

The post also quotes a“Professor Chen Horin CEO of the Beijing Military Hospital”as saying that a hot drink with lemon can curb the spread of thevirus.

But there are severalthings that are not right:

  • the Chinese name of the researcher looks fake as it translates into English as “what is your name”
  • Zanjan University does not exist in China
  • the professor referred to has appeared before in misleading health advice about cancer

And to be clear – there’s no evidence at all that lemon juice or large doses of vitamin C will stop the virus.

Read Also: 12 Safety tips to Observe when using a Public Transport

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