Coronavirus rumors trigger irrational behaviors among Chinese netizens
In the face of China’s resolute(1) battle against the deadly(2) novel(3) coronavirus(4) outbreak that has caused over 17,000 confirmed cases(5) of infections and 361 deaths nationwide, millions of Chinese people have been quarantined(6) during the Spring Festival holidays. At the same time, rumormongering(7) on social media platforms triggered(8) irrational behavior among netizens(9) as the research on effective counter-virus(10) treatment is still ongoing.
A report by the Xinhua News Agency claimed Chinese patent(11) medicine, Shuanghuanglian oral liquid, containing three herbal ingredients, is effective in containing the novel coronavirus infection, citing the latest joint research between Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under Chinese Academy of Sciences(12) and Wuhan Institute of Virology(13). The news was also reported by People’s Daily soon after. It emerged as the most searched topic on Weibo. People rushed to purchase the medicine online and offline(14), resulting in it to go off the shelves(15) in quick succession(16).
Pictures circulating(17) on social media showed residents queuing up in front of pharmacies(18) late-night braving the chilly weather(19) to purchase Shuanghuanglian oral liquid. Some netizens even comforted each other when they found the drugs have been all sold out, planning another try in the early morning.
However, the People’s Daily published a contrasting(20) report the next morning, urging people not to rush to purchase Shuanghuanglian oral liquid, as there is no specific anti-viral treatment recommended against coronavirus infection so far. Besides, research for treatment measures is still ongoing but it is yet to pass clinical trials(21).
It also cautioned the public against consuming drugs without proper physician guidance(22).
During the coronavirus outbreaks, frenzy(23) rumors accompanied the epidemic causing social panic. Some Chinese netizens mocked(24) themselves recalling the different instances when they rushed to buy different medical supplies since the virus outbreak, ranging from masks to disinfectant(25) to rice, gloves and even ultraviolet(26) lamps. Some netizens said they have been spending hours online to dig out(27) useful information about effective anti-virus measures.
Some analysts suggested rumors and the subsequent panic are more dangerous than the epidemic itself as disinformation(28) often strikes the emotional chord(29) and people are vulnerable(30) to incorrect judgments at such critical times.
Fatuous(31) rumors claiming Corona beer as a medium of this virus resulted in some netizens asking for refunds from the beer company on social media.
“Calm down and give a second thought when it comes to believing different information online,” a Beijing-based resident Simon told the Global Times. The first thing I have been doing every day during these holidays is rebutting(32) rumors in various family WeChat groups, as middle-aged and elderly groups are more likely to believe in online rumors.
(5) confirmed case：确诊病例
(12) Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under Chinese Academy of Sciences：中国科学院上海药物研究所
(13) Wuhan Institute of Virology：武汉病毒研究所（virology：病毒学）
(14) online and offline：线上线下
(15) go off the shelves：下架
(16) in quick succession：紧接着
(19) brave the chilly weather：冒着严寒
(21) clinical trial：临床试验
(22) physician guidance：医嘱
(27) dig out：发现，挖掘
(1) In the face of China’s resolute battle against the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak that has caused over 17,000 confirmed cases of infections and 361 deaths nationwide, millions of Chinese people have been quarantined during the Spring Festival holidays.
(2) A report by the Xinhua News Agency claimed Chinese patent medicine, Shuanghuanglian oral liquid, containing three herbal ingredients, is effective in containing the novel coronavirus infection, citing the latest joint research between Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under Chinese Academy of Sciences and Wuhan Institute of Virology.
(3) Some analysts suggested rumors and the subsequent panic are more dangerous than the epidemic itself as disinformation often strikes the emotional chord and people are vulnerable to incorrect judgments at such critical times.