UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Tuesday of a "dangerous epidemic of misinformation" surrounding the novel coronavirus as the world continues to grapple with bringing the outbreak under control.

"Around the world, people are scared. They want to know what to do and where to turn for advice," Guterres said in a video message.

"This is a time for science and solidarity. Yet the global ‘misinfo-demic’ is spreading. Harmful health advice and snake-oil solutions are proliferating. Falsehoods are filling the airwaves. Wild conspiracy theories are infecting the internet. Hatred is going viral, stigmatizing and vilifying people and groups. The world must unite against this disease, too," he stressed.

Guterres thanked journalists for fact-checking questionable stories and social media posts, and called upon social media companies to "do more to root out hate and harmful assertions about COVID-19."

"With common cause for common sense and facts, we can defeat COVID-19 -- and build a healthier, more equitable, just and resilient world," he said.

In all, more than 1.9 million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since it emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Just shy of 122,000 have died of complications from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus while more than 465,700 others have recovered, according to the university.

Most people who become infected will exhibit mild symptoms, but it can be especially fatal for the elderly and for individuals with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and asthma.