Coronavirus is clearly having a big impact on many parts of daily life. But it’s important not to be misled by inaccurate news stories and false information.

Unfortunately, these are circulating widely on the internet. Among many items of fake news are claims that coronavirus can survive on packaging for 28 days, was genetically engineered to spread efficiently among humans, caused by 5G, or can be detected by holding your breath. All these stories are untrue.

No-one is in charge of the internet. Anyone can post anything online. It can be easy for people to read untrue claims that have been shared in good faith by friends and family, via email or social media.

Below are some questions to help you check the information you find online is trustworthy.

Is there a date?

Medical advice changes over time so make sure the information you get is up to date.

Websites providing trusted health information will normally include a publication and review date.

Who produced it?

Knowing who produced the information can help you understand why they produced it. For example, a commercial website might be trying to sell you something. Follow any links which say ‘home’ or ‘about us’ to find out more.

What is the website address?

Charity and non-profit websites often end in ‘’ or ‘.org ’. Government websites end in ‘’. Academic institutions end in ‘’.

Does it look professional?

Check for spelling errors and make sure links work.

Is there evidence?

Two people with the same condition can have very different experiences. Is the author expressing an opinion based on their own experience? Do they have evidence to back it up?

Does it include sources?

If someone says they have evidence they should provide the sources to support this. Is it backed by other organisations?

‘My friend said’

Personal stories are great for knowing other people are going through the same thing as you. But everybody responds to treatment in different ways. Just because someone has had a particular side effect or outcome does not mean you will.

Remember, just because your friend shared information with you does not mean it is true.

Is it biased?

Does the information seem balanced? If it is all negative or all positive the publisher might be biased.

This does not mean what they say is untrue. But you should think about their reasons for publishing.

Sources of advice

Full information on what is being done in response to coronavirus is on the Government's website. Advice on what to do is available from the NHS website.

For updates, you can keep checking our website or sign up to our Weekly News by email – we only promote information that we are sure is trustworthy. 

The independent fact-checking service Full Fact publishes regular articles exploring whether new claims are true or not.

The Science Media Centre provides a range of expert views for reporting by the press, which are also available for the public to read.

The advice in this article is based on our information leaflet 'Finding trustworthy information online'.

Share checklist

To combat the spread of misinformation online, the Government has published a checklist using the acronym 'SHARE'.

Make sure that the story is written by a source you trust, with a reputation for accuracy. If it’s from an unfamiliar organisation, check for a website’s ‘About’ section to learn more.

Always read beyond the headline. If it sounds unbelievable, it very well might be. Be wary if something doesn’t seem to add up.

Make sure you check the facts. Just because you have seen a story several times, doesn’t mean it’s true. If you’re not sure, look at fact checking websites and other reliable sources to double check.

Check whether the image looks like it has been or could have been manipulated. False news stories often contain retouched photos or re-edited clips. Sometimes they are authentic, but have been taken out of context.

Many false news stories have phony or look-alike URLs. Look out for misspellings, bad grammar or awkward layouts.

Updated 30th March, 11:00.