People with face masks arrive at a BTS Sky train station in Bangkok on January 27, 2020 following the global outbreak of a new strain of novel coronavirus. (AFP / Mladen Antonov)

Thai Department of Health denies authorising face mask infographic after novel coronavirus outbreak

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An infographic describing different types of sanitary face masks and their effectiveness against germs and air pollutants has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook. The graphic claims that the Thai Department of Health is its source of information. The claim is false; the Department of Health told AFP that the image was created and distributed without its consent.

The image was published on Facebook here on February 2, 2020.

Below is a screenshot of the misleading post, which has been shared more than 100 times:

Screenshot of misleading Facebook post

The infographic presents different types of face masks and details their effectiveness against viruses, bacteria, particulate matter and flower pollens.

The post’s Thai-language caption translates to English as: “The different types of sanitary masks and the protection it provides”

At the bottom right corner of the infographic, the text reads: "Source: Department of Health"

Identical images were also shared on Facebook here and here. Another similar image with the same claim was shared here

The claim is false. In a Facebook post published on February 2, 2020, the Department of Health refuted that it provided information for the infographic.

“Due to the citation, the Department of Health has not approved the authenticity while the image’s creator has issued a correction,” the agency wrote in the post’s Thai caption.

Below is a screenshot of the Department of Health’s post:

Screenshot of the Facebook post by the Department of Health

The blue Thai text above a partially blurred image translates to English as: “The Department of Health explains”.

The text below reads: “According to a media post by a page which has cited the Department of Health as a source, the Department of Health would like to explain that the media did not use the department’s official information and the Department of Health does not approve the authenticity of this set of information presented in this media.”

The Department of Health also told AFP by phone on February 5, 2020 that the information presented in the image has not been produced according to the department’s official guidelines.

The Department of Health posted this infographic on their official Facebook page on February 5, 2020.

The title reads in English as: “Always wash your hands… As protection against novel Coronavirus 2019”.

The Thai text at the bottom translates to English as: “Wash your hands correctly and use soap or alcohol to clean your hands to minimize the risk of contracting the coronavirus”.