NSW Health has once again been forced to dispel “incorrect and alarmist” rumours about the novel coronavirus outbreak, telling concerned Sydneysiders there’s zero risk in visiting suburbs with large Chinese-Australian communities.

In a new release, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant took aim at the bullshit which has swept across social media, telling folks to “investigate unverified claims before they share them with others.”

The first rumour: that punters who visit certain postcodes put themselves at a higher risk of infection. That’s not true, NSW Health says, considering the fact “there is no evidence that community transmission is occurring in NSW.” Everyone in the state who has the illness – that’s four people, folks – has been placed in isolation “until no longer infectious.”

Authorities say it’s vanishingly unlikely anyone could contract the novel coronavirus from imported goods or their pets. It is believed the virus doesn’t last long outside of the body, meaning shipped goods don’t pose a risk. You can also continue cuddling your furry mates; while it’s been posited the virus initially jumped to humans from animals, domesticated pets over here don’t pose any risk.

It’s also important for you to know the novel coronavirus hasn’t spontaneously developed into some kind of instant killer. While the global outbreak is of enormous concern, NSW Health states “the illness appears less severe than SARS or MERS, and many people with the disease may have a mild illness.”

The final myth involves infection prevention. Although they are delicious, garlic and sesame oil are not appropriate cures for the illness, and if you display any concerning symptoms it’s best for you to see a doctor.

So, what can you do to avoid the virus? The same thing you should be doing during every other flu season, ever: washing your hands, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, packing hand sanitiser, and generally staying out of the business of people who are sick.

This is the second time NSW Health has put out such a statement. The first announcement came after the sudden proliferation of conspiracy theories online, with authorities referencing made-up garbage about the non-existent “Department of Diseasology Parramatta.”

As it stands, the novel coronavirus has taken 560 lives in China. Some 28,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, with the vast majority isolated to the Chinese mainland.

Australia has begun quarantining citizens evacuated from China’s locked-down Hubei province to Christmas Island for a 14-day incubation period. Australians returning from China has also been asked to self-isolate for a fortnight, while foreign nationals travelling from mainland China have been barred from entering the country.

It’s a big deal, and it’s vital the public is informed about what’s going on. But, as the latest NSW Health statement shows, unverified shitposting doesn’t help anyone.

Image: James Ross / AAP Image