Your eyes clearly confirm that you have coronavirus?

Fact checking

Sara Marković
Media headline
UNICEF Montenegro
09 April 2020

In late March, information about red eyes as a new symptom of coronavirus was circulated in online media and social media. The media reported that the eyes clearly confirmed that one was infected with coronavirus and that in addition to the already known symptoms of a fever and persistent cough, individuals who were infected with coronavirus could also have red eyes, just as if they had an allergic reaction.

This information was published, among others, by the portals “Alo”, Novi.ba, “Antena M”, “Srbija danas” (Serbia today), “Beograd in”, “Korisni savjeti” (Useful Tips), “Kurir”, “Espreso”, etc.

Slika google pretrazivaca
UNICEF Crna Gora
Slika google pretrazivaca
UNICEF Crna Gora

The source of this information is a statement given by Chelsey Earnest, a nurse at the Life Care Center, Washington, who spoke about this on CNN on 24 March.

Slika iz medicinske sestre iz inostranih medija
UNICEF Crna Gora
slika teksta iz medija
UNICEF Crna Gora

The nurse testified that the patients’ eyes were red, like allergy eyes.

Using credible sources, we checked the World Health Organization website and found that red eyes were not mentioned anywhere as a symptom.

slika teksta iz medija
UNICEF Crna Gora

Also, we asked the Public Health Institute of Montenegro whether that information was correct.

They referred us to a study carried out on the largest number of respondent COVID-19 patients, which found that the most common symptoms of infection were the following:

Symptoms
UNICEF Montenegro

"This is at the same time a response related to conjunctivitis – 0.8 percent of patients complained of mucosal inflammation. 0.8 percent of the nearly 56,000 patients covered by the study. Therefore, it is extremely rare,” the response of the PHI MNE reads.

Accordingly, red eyes are not a new symptom of coronavirus, and eyes alone cannot clearly confirm that one has coronavirus, and it can be therefore concluded that this information is incorrect.

Inaccurate or unverified news can be found at every click. For this reason, media literacy is of paramount importance as one of the first defence mechanisms against fake news.

#StayHome and get informed through proven sources of information!

 

In an effort to contribute to preventing the dissemination of coronavirus misinformation and to promoting credible sources of information, UNICEF's young reporters have decided to check the accuracy of information published on social media and in the media that has attracted public attention. In verifying the accuracy of information, they have followed the example of the Public Disclosure Platform and partly used its publicly available methodology.