Brazil: Is hand sanitizer dangerous and does it burn when exposed to the sun?

Claim : Different pictures found on the internet show dangerous side effects to the use of hand sanitizer. As Le Monde explains, these pictures are re-used images and do not show that hand sanitizer can burn.

Facts: The most engaging post is one picturing a car with a scorched door reminding the viewer the gel is flammable. The other picture shows a burnt hand. The caption says: “Urgent. Be careful, do not approach an oven once you’ve put on hand sanitizer.”

Truth: The information was shared by several Brazilian social media accounts and has spread to reach countries such as France and Tunisia.

Estadao, a Brazilian newspaper, published an article on April 28 to deny the claim. Professor Reinaldo Bazito from the Institute of Chemistry at the University of Sao Paulo makes clear that the alcohol found in hand sanitizers has a very small chance to spontaneously catch fire in a vehicle. They contain around 70% of alcohol like ethanol. It means that it is a flammable product but as the professor mentions, “for the alcohol to spontaneously combust without the presence of a flammable source, it would mean reaching a temperature higher than 363°C”. Thus, it is impossible to reach this temperature in a car even if exposed to the sun.

The picture of the hand was spread on French social media but is a re-used image.

The original one was published in 2016 on a Canadian website, Mesdemoiselles Survie, that gives tips to heal burns, according to Hoax-net. This image is a second or third-degree burnt hand after an incident caused by a pan with boiling water. Nothing to do with the use of hand sanitizers.

ITALY - Is Italy Calling for Bill Gates’ Arrest?

Claim : The Italian government is calling for the arrest of Bill Gates for “crimes against humanity”. According to Snopes, this theory is false.

Fact: On May 14, a YouTube channel called “prisoners0fprogress” shared a video captioned “Italian Government calls for arrest of Bill Gates." The video, in Italian with English subtitles, gained more than a million views and has been shared worldwide on social media.

On it, Sara Cunial -- a conservative Chamber of Deputies representative and a well-known anti-vaccination activist -- speaks at parliament, claiming that Bill Gates would be behind the pandemic with the aim to “depopulate the globe” through the use of vaccines. After six minutes of her exposing her arguments, she asks for the arrest of Bill Gates for “crimes against humanity” before being booed by colleagues.

Truth: This viewpoint has not been endorsed by the Italian government and it is Cunial’s personal opinion. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Bill Gates has been accused by conspiracy theorists of several insubstantial claims. These theories have been examined by fact-checkers and proven false, including the one in which Gates and his foundation -- the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- are accused to be behind the pandemic and to develop a vaccine in order to make money and control the world economy.

US - Does hydroxychloroquine help prevent coronavirus’ symptoms like Trump says?

Claim: President Trump has declared publicly that he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine for the last two weeks. He promotes it as a good way to help prevent Coronavirus symptoms. As The Guardian highlights, Trump’s thoughts should not be taken as serious medical advice since the WHO and the US NIH are still looking into it.

Fact: The President of the United States Donald Trump declared during a press conference on Monday (May 18) : "I'm taking it for about a week and a half now and I'm still here, I'm still here". He also added : “You'd be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers before you catch it, the frontline workers, many, many are taking it," he told reporters.

When asked for evidence he said: "I've heard a lot of good stories [about hydroxychloroquine] and if it's not good, I'll tell you right - you know, I'm not going to get hurt by it."

Truth: There is no current cure or vaccine for Covid-19. If some studies have found that hydroxychloroquine could help diminish some symptoms linked with coronavirus, the research is not yet conclusive.

The WHO is studying whether hydroxychloroquine could be used as a treatment against Coronavirus. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) is also looking at the possibility of using hydroxychloroquine as a cure with clinical trials. However, no positive results have been found yet.

There are also a number of side-effects to take into account.

According to The Guardian, hydroxychloroquine could interfere with cardiac rhythm and cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, rashes and hair loss. As the Mayo Clinic recalls, “off-label” drugs such as hydroxychloroquine can lead to “drug-induced sudden cardiac death”. Hydroxychloroquine is not a cure for the novel coronavirus. No treatments or vaccines have been found for the moment.

Madagascar - Is it true the WHO offered Madagascar’s President bribes to poison COVID-19 remedy?

Claim: The President of Madagascan Andry Rajoelina has accused the World Health Organisation of offering a $20 million bribe to poison a herbal tea remedy he promotes as a COVID-19 cure.

According to AFP Fact Check, “there is no evidence Madagascan president said WHO offered bribe to poison COVID-19 remedy.”

Fact: Two Tanzanian newspapers claimed that WHO offered “20 million bribe to see “Covid-19 medicine poisoned”. The articles said that this allegation was made during an interview on French news channel France 24. Screenshots of the publications have been shared hundreds of times on Facebook as well as in French Facebook groups.

Truth: Andry Rajoelina launched a herbal tea that he promotes as the novel coronavirus’ cure. The drink was created by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research and is based on artemisia, a plant with proven efficacy in malaria treatment. The World Health Organisation has flagged this product as one that’s “not been taken through tests to see its efficacy”.

On top of that, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has declared the tea should be “tested rigorously”. However, Rajoelina confirmed his claim that his country has found a COVID-19 remedy. The product, now known as Covid-Organics, has been shipped to Tanzania after its president, John Pombe Magufuli, asked to try it.

If Rajoelina claims that his country found a COVID-19 remedy, there remains no evidence that WHO offered bribes to “poison it”. Rajoelina gave an interview to France 24 but as AFP mentions, there is no proof of this claim in the reportage. Moreover, the presidency of Madagascar denied the allegations on May 14, according to AFP. The WHO never bribed Rajoelina to “poison the COVID-19 remedy”.

The Covid-Organics remedy has not been verified and shouldn’t be taken as a cure.

Nigeria - Did Nigeria impose a curfew to build 5G masts?

Claim : The Nigerian government imposed a curfew to enable Chinese companies to build 5G masts. According to AFP Fact Check, “Nigeria imposed a curfew to slow the spread of COVID-19 and has not yet set up 5G networks”.

Fact : A Facebook post, with an image of a 5G mast, was shared hundreds of times and spread the claim that the “Nigerian government imposes curfew to allow China mount their 5G antenna.” Many conspiracy theorists claim that there is a link between 5G networks and the pandemic.

According to several discredited theories, 5G networks could be behind the pandemic.

Truth: AFP Fact Check investigated the original picture and found that it was taken in Cardiff, UK, by photographer Matthew Horwood. The picture’s caption says: “A 5G mobile phone mast on April 04, 2020 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. There have been isolated cases of 5G phone masts being vandalised following claims online that the masts are responsible for coronavirus.”

The Nigerian Communications Commission has since declared that 5G licences have not been given to any telecommunication network in Nigeria. “There is no deployment of 5G in Nigeria at the moment,” said the NCC according to AFP.

Nigeria did not impose a curfew to build 5G masts and as AFP Fact Check reports: “Online conspiracy theories blaming 5G networks for the pandemic fuelled attacks on 5G towers last month in some European countries, including Britain and Cyprus. Experts sharply rejected the theory.”