Taiwanese man faces hefty fine for spreading rumor that cyanide kills Wuhan virus

Man instructed Chinese to consume the chemical to avoid contracting the coronavirus

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Tubes of biomaterial samples are placed in the pop-up Huoyan Laboratory specialized in the nucleic acid test on 2019-nCoV in Wuhan.

Tubes of biomaterial samples are placed in the pop-up Huoyan Laboratory specialized in the nucleic acid test on 2019-nCoV in Wuhan. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese national currently studying in Japan will be prosecuted for spreading rumors that cyanide can be used to ward off the Wuhan coronavirus, according to Taiwan’s criminal investigation authorities.

The 29-year-old male, surnamed You (游), has been identified as the culprit behind a theory that went viral touting the effects of cyanide in preventing infections of the potentially lethal virus, reported CNA. Cyanide is a highly toxic chemical compound often associated with “suicide pills” used by spies in danger of capture.

The suspect is accused of disseminating falsehoods on a Facebook forum called “Taiwan & Japan,” posting “Taking cyanide helps kill the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and prevent the disease,” adding “Chinese are advised to consume the chemical for their protection."

The man has been charged with spreading misinformation concerning epidemics that can have a detrimental effect on the public. Such an offense can incur a fine of up to NT$3 million (US$99,308) pursuant to the Communicable Disease Control Act.

Rumors have been churning since the outbreak of the coronavirus, a great proportion of them related to unsubstantiated claims about the remedial effects of herbs and foods as well as various bizarre substances. In one story from India, a politician reportedly suggested that “the urine and dung of cows” can also serve as a treatment.