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No, You Don’t Have to Shave Your Beard to Fend Off COVID-19

2 mins read As long as coronavirus is involved, we advise that you follow credible advise emanating from health authorities; disregard information from traffic seeking blogs or websites.

Photo Credit: Black Enterprise 2 mins read

A Twitter page claimed shaving of facial hair ensures safety from COVID-19, further attributing the message to the CDC.

Results from our research show that the message from Today .ng’s article is a misappropriation of a 2017 NOISH publication; a notification directed at workers using respirators in carrying out their tasks. It has nothing to do with preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Full Text

On February 28, following the announcement by the Nigerian health authorities, the massive civil unrest was palpable. On this day, Nigeria became the third African country to detect coronavirus after Algeria and Egypt. Reports have it that, the virus’ point of entry was an Italian on a business trip on February 25.  

Amid the uproar, Twitter received a claim by Nigeria Newsdesk, attributed to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. It says, “To be safe from coronavirus, shave your beard.”  

When we checked the link attached to the post, it led us here, an article from Today.ng. The publication demystifying the headline revealed that the United States’ CDC has warned that facial hair can interfere with facemasks and respirators; as they are widely used to prevent the global spread of COVID-19.

Further, an infographic attached to the article bears a CDC logo, showing different types of beards style. The image indicates which beard style is suitable for the mask/respirator with a green tick; the unsuitable one gets a red cancel sign.  

Claim

Verification

This claim is undoubtedly a headscratcher, awakening all your sceptic bones. The question, what is the correlation between coronavirus and facial hair (beards)? Besides this, the article did not indicate when or where the CDC made the announcement. More soo, the article still refers to the virus as 2019-nCoV and not COVID-19, its official name.

Firstly, our verification commenced at the scene of the crime, the would-be infographic from the CDC. Our search initially panned fruitless as we could not find anything helpful on the health institute’s website. Next, we searched CDC Twitter posts from when coronavirus broke till present but found nothing still. Could it be that the site manufactured the image itself? 

Nothing to do with COVID-19

Dubawa’s reverse image search on TinEye provided only five results from which we found this – a CDC NIOSH publication from November 2, 2017. We found that NIOSH -National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – is a division of CDC, set up to research and make recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness.

Excerpt from CDC

Lateef Sanni is a graduate of mass communication from Lagos state university. Before joining Dubawa, he belonged to the association of campus journalists where he was trained on the basics of fact-checking, a tool for combating misinformation in Nigeria. He joined the Dubawa team as a researcher and content developer for Dubawa's social media platforms. He consistently works to improve the dissemination of fact-checks through pictures [fact cards] and videos.

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