One thing that has spread faster than the coronavirus itself, is false information or myths around it. Whether they’re regarding the spread of the disease, preventing it, or even curing it, they range from ridiculous to outright harmful and have even led to racist attacks on Asians. Just as it’s important to keep yourself safe and healthy, it’s as important to debunk false information surrounding the virus.
So, Let’s Take A Look At Some Of These Coronavirus Myths
Myth: The virus comes from Corona beers
Fact: Nope. Even though they sound kind of similar, the beer has nothing to do with the virus (despite a spike in internet searches for “corona beer virus” and “beer coronavirus.”).
Myth: Cold weather can kill the new coronavirus
Fact: 2019-nCoV has spread to countries with both hot and humid climates, as well as cold and dry ones. There is no reason to believe that warm or cool climates can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases, as normal human body temperature remains at a constant 36.5-37°C, regardless of the external temperature.
Myth: Heat can kill the virus
Fact: Heat from hot baths or hand dryers cannot kill the virus, according to the WHO. And, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can actually be harmful, as it can burn you. UV lamps also shouldn’t be used to sterilize the body because the radiation can irritate the skin. There is also little evidence that warm weather can slow down the virus.
Myth: It can be transmitted through mosquito bites
Fact: The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus and it spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also infect people through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose, but not through blood and thus cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites.
Myth: Your pets can also spread the COVID-19
Fact: While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. Currently, there is no evidence that house pets can spread the virus. There is, however, one confirmed case of a dog with the virus in China; so it is a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with your pets. BUT, if you’re already sick with COVID-19, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.
Myth: Drinking water every 15 minutes will wash away the virus
Fact: The claim that drinking water every 15 minutes will wash the coronavirus down through your throat and into the stomach where acid will kill all the virus is false and has been debunked multiple times. Similarly, gargling mouthwash or rinsing your nose with saline will also not kill the virus. However, drinking water and staying hydrated is important in other ways, as it helps with all bodily functions.
Myth: You must buy a mask to protect yourself
Fact: This has become of the most debated coronavirus myths. But, in general, the WHO advises that you to avoid unnecessary wastage; as masks are essential for healthcare providers. Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19 (see the WHO’s advice on the use of masks).
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) March 8, 2020
Myth: Packages from any area where COVID-19 has been reported will spread the virus
Fact: The new coronavirus can stay on surfaces anywhere between a few hours to several days. BUT, it is VERY UNLIKELY that the virus will remain on any packages after being moved, having travelled, and been exposed to different conditions and temperatures. If you still think a surface might be contaminated, use a disinfectant to clean it; and wash your hands after touching it.
Myth: People are just panicking by cancelling plans and closing offices
Fact: Even if the personal risk of death is very low, cancelling travel plans or closing public areas like schools and workplaces are a good measure to slow the spread of this swift-moving disease which can quickly overburden national and global healthcare services.
I am lucky enough to be in an age demographic unlikely to experience #COVID19 severely.
However, as a health care professional, I am now self-isolating as much as I can beyond work. No unnecessary events, gatherings, travel.
The NHS needs as many virus-free docs as possible.
— Rachel Clarke (@doctor_oxford) March 12, 2020
Myth: The coronavirus is man-made
Fact: Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Coronaviruses have been around for a while and usually originate in animals. While experts are still trying to figure out the source, COVID-19 may have originated in bats like the SARS epidemic in 2003.
Myth: Taking antibiotics will stop you from getting it
Fact: Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. As the new coronavirus is a virus, antibiotics (which work against only bacteria) should not be used for either prevention or treatment. However, those hospitalised my be given antibiotics to fight bacterial co-infection.
Myth: Pneumonia vaccines will also protect you
Fact: Vaccines against pneumonia won’t provide protection against COVID-19 as the virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine but there is still no information on when this will be available. However, please remember that this can take months.
Myth: Home remedies will prevent/cure the virus
Fact: There have been many misleading statements that traditional medicine and remedies like eating garlic and onion will keep the virus away or even cure you. While they do have some antimicrobial properties, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that they will protect people from COVID-19. Additionally, the assertion by Indian politician, Suman Haripriya, that cow dung and urine can cure coronavirus is also false.
Myth: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body can kill the virus
Fact: Unfortunately no. Alcohol and chlorine can be used to disinfect surfaces, but they cannot kill viruses that have already entered your body (nor can drinking alcohol). This may also be harmful to clothes, skin, eyes, etc. And this should go without saying, but PLEASE DON’T INGEST BLEACH AND OTHER CHEMICAL DISINFECTANTS EITHER.
Myth: You can test for COVID-19 by holding your breath
Fact: Some sources have claimed that holding your breath for 10 seconds. It says that if you complete it successfully without coughing, discomfort, stuffiness or tightness it proves there is no fibrosis in the lungs, basically indicating no infection. However, experts have said that this is NOT a reliable way to determine whether someone has the virus.
Myth: Only old people get sick, young people don’t have to worry
Fact: While most of the more serious cases and even deaths have been elderly or middle-aged people, who more vulnerable to such infections, people of all ages can get infected with the virus. The WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves.
Myth: If you’re young and healthy, you can go about your life as usual; even if you’ve tested positive/you’re showing symptoms for the new coronavirus
Fact: Those who are generally healthy, under the age of 65, and don’t have any preexisting conditions, it’s likely that you’ll only experience mild symptoms (very like seasonal flu). But, even if you don’t suffer, you’re more likely to pass it along to members of your community who are more at risk, so avoid crowds, and stay at home as much as possible (this includes working from home) to stop it spreading. Remember, you can spread it before you even know you have it; since the symptoms take many days or weeks to show up after you’ve been infected.
Myth: Everyone who gets it will die
Fact: The fatality rate of COVID-19 was first estimated to be around 2% in China, but this number is expected to fall. (While the WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, spoke of the rate being 3.4%, this figure was based on officially confirmed cases and did not take into account the more mild cases that did not get to the hospital.)
Many people who get the new coronavirus will only have mild symptoms (like a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and a headache lasting a few days) that will go away on their own. Deaths are highest amongst the elderly, those with a weakened immune system, and the very young. But remember, with over 120,000 people infected and authorities still struggling to contain the virus, even a 2% mortality rate is worrisome.
Here Are Some Basic Dos And Don’ts
We recommend that you follow the guidelines and advice given by trusted sources on how to deal with it, including:
- The World Health Organization has regularly updated situation reports, travel advice and advice to the public on protecting yourself from infections.
- The CDC (USA) website provides Risk assessments, Travel advice, and FAQs relating to the 2019 nCoV outbreak.
- The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care also provides guidance to the public.
- India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare includes updates, guidelines, and basic dos and don’ts.
Be careful of the sources you get information from, especially outside these sources. As always, don’t believe everything you read on the internet, and verify your facts before spreading any new coronavirus myths.
Be smart and inform yourself about #COVID19.
Avoid spreading rumours and follow accurate public health advice from WHO and your local health authority.
— WHO/Europe (@WHO_Europe) March 12, 2020
If you believe you may have symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus or feel you may have been exposed to the virus, speak to a doctor and/or contact your local health officials for further guidance.