Coronavirus Newsbites

Infrared thermometers are safe and do not cause cancer, health officials say
An image has been shared in multiple posts on Facebook in Malaysia alongside a claim that people in Saudi Arabia are aiming infrared thermometers at people’s hands rather than their foreheads because “laser light” can damage the brain. The claim circulated as governments around the world recommended temperature checks as part of efforts to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus. The claim is false; health authorities have said infrared thermometers can safely be pointed at a person's head; the image in the misleading posts has been taken from a photo gallery which also shows officials in Saudi Arabia pointing infrared thermometers at people's heads.

Anti-vaccine video falsely claims to expose a purported Bill Gates plan to depopulate Africa
A YouTube video featuring Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz has been viewed thousands of times in posts that claim it exposes a plan by American billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates to forcefully vaccinate and “depopulate Africans” amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. But this is false; Dershowitz was talking about the people of New York while answering questions about the constitutionality of mandatory vaccination under US law. He made no reference to Africans, Gates or depopulation.

Trump’s Missteps on COVID-19 Mortality
President Donald Trump exaggerated Americans’ comparative success battling the coronavirus, falsely saying in a press briefing that the U.S. per capita death rate is lower than “most” of Western Europe. He also claimed a 9% decrease in COVID-19 fatalities over the past week, but the data do not show such a decline.

Face Masks Don’t Cause Legionnaires’ Disease
A viral social media post is spreading the falsehood that wearing a face mask to slow the spread of COVID-19 could cause Legionnaires’ disease. But Legionnaires’ disease is caused by bacteria that festers mostly in warm, standing water, not in human saliva.

This photo was taken in China almost ten years before the novel coronavirus pandemic
A photo has been shared hundreds of times in multiple Facebook posts that claim it shows Japanese officials paying tribute to frontline workers during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The claim is false; the photo shows a group of workers in China in 2011.