Here are 19 COVID-19 myths debunked with facts

Here are 19 myths about coronavirus busted by health experts and designated organisations so that you don’t fall prey to fake news.
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As the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 rapidly spreads across the globe, there’s a pandemic of fear unfolding alongside the pandemic of the coronavirus. As of March 18, 2020, the total positive cases stand at 198,580 worldwide, with the virus killing 7,988 people so far according to worldometer

India has a total of 147 confirmed cases of infections with three deaths reported to date.

With the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring the virus outbreak a pandemic, several organisations, business groups, and collectives are attempting to limit social interactions to avoid the transmission of the disease.

As the outbreak continues to create panic within society, a lot of misinformation is also being circulated on social media platforms. However, media firms are taking the necessary steps and relay information and directives issues only by WHO and the Ministry of Health and Family Affairs.

Here are 19 myths about coronavirus busted by health experts and designated organisations so that you don’t fall prey to fake news:

Myth #1: Coronavirus will go away in the summer.

Fact: According to the WHO, this strain of coronavirus can be transmitted regardless of the region's climate. A change in temperature isn't expected to curtail the outbreak.

Myth #2: In summer, the virus will spread more due to mosquito bites. 

Fact: According to Faheem Younus, MD, Chief Quality Officer, and Chief of Infectious Diseases, University of Maryland UCH, this infection only spreads via respiratory droplets, not blood. Mosquitos cannot spread the disease.

Myth #3:  If you can hold your breath for ten seconds without discomfort, you don’t have COVID-19. 

Fact: According to Gavin Macgregor, an infectious disease expert, most young patients with coronavirus will be able to hold their breaths for much longer than 10 seconds. At the same time, many elderly people who don’t have the virus might not be able to do it.

Also, many social media posts and forwarded messages attribute this myth to Stanford University, but the official from the university has claimed this news is fake and they are not responsible for issuing it.

Myth #4: Drinking water every 15 minutes will prevent you from contracting the virus.

Fact: Trudie Lang, a University of Oxford professor who specialises in global health, told that washing away a respiratory virus is impossible.

Myth #5: A vaccine to cure COVID-19 is available

Fact: Lisa Maragakis, MD, MPH, Senior Director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says there is no vaccine for the new coronavirus right now. Scientists have already begun working on one, but developing a vaccine that is safe and one that has undergone clinical trials in human beings will take many months.

Myth #6: You can protect yourself from COVID-19 by swallowing or gargling with bleach, taking acetic acid or steroids, or using essential oils, saltwater, ethanol, or other substances.

Fact: None of these recommendations will protect you from getting COVID-19, and some of these practices may be dangerous says Lisa Maragakis. The best ways to protect yourself from this coronavirus (and other viruses) include:

  1. Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, using soap and hot water.
  2. Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, sneezing, or coughing.
  3. Also, you can avoid spreading your germs by coughing into the crook of your elbow and staying home when you are sick.

Myth #7: You can get the virus from products made in China.

Fact: Scientists currently believe that the virus doesn't survive for extended periods on hard surfaces, although its lifespan still is being studied. A package from China will be in transit for several days or weeks before being delivered so it's unlikely that it harbours the virus, according to John Hopkins Medicine

Myth #8: Since COVID-19 testing is unavailable, we should donate blood. The blood bank will test for it. 

Fact: According to Faheem Younus, no blood bank is testing for coronavirus so this attempt will fail. Blood donation is a sacred exercise; let’s make sure we are motivated by the right reasons.

Myth #9: Hand dryers kill the coronavirus.

Fact: According to the WHO, the best method of protecting yourself against the virus is washing your hands with warm water and soap.

Myth #10: Spraying yourself with chlorine or alcohol will kill the virus.

Fact: Although alcohol and chlorine can be used in small amounts as disinfectants on hard surfaces, they cannot kill the virus once it has entered your system, according to WHO. The products also can irritate your mouth, eyes and other mucous membranes.

Myth #11: Hand sanitisers are better than soap and water. 

Fact: Faheem Younus says that soap and water actually kills and washes away the virus from the skin (it can not penetrate our skin cells), besides cleaning the visible soiling of hands. 

Myth #12: Eat a lot of garlic to avoid getting the virus.

Fact: Although garlic has some antimicrobial properties, which slows the spread of microorganisms, there isn't any proof that garlic has helped prevent the spread of coronavirus according to WHO.

Myth #13: Rinsing your nose with nasal saline will prevent the virus

Fact: There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing your nose with saline lowers the duration of a common cold, according to WHO. But rinsing your nose has not been proven to eliminate the coronavirus or any other respiratory infection.

Myth #14: Chinese food is unsafe to eat right now.

Fact: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the spread of the virus has created a stigma toward Asian-Americans, the East Asian community, and other groups who were placed in quarantine. In reality, the virus spreads through respiratory droplets and there's little risk of contracting the virus from food. The best way to protect yourself is frequent hand washing.

Myth #15: A face mask will protect you from COVID-19.

Fact: Masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is the main transmission route of the coronavirus. According to the CDC, masks should only be worn by healthcare professionals. If someone is in close contact with an infected person, a mask cuts the chance of the disease being passed on. Also, it is advisable to people who show symptoms of COVID-19, or who have been diagnosed, to wear a mask as that can prevent the virus from passing on. Ideally, both the patient and the caretaker should wear a mask. It will, however, make little difference if you’re just walking around town or taking a bus while wearing a face mask. People who wear masks are more likely to touch their face and increase their risk of contracting the virus, US Surgeon-General Jerome M Adams said

Myth #16: Ultraviolet disinfection lamps kill the virus on your skin.

Fact: According to WHO, the best way to sterilise your hands is by washing them with soap and water. The ultraviolet light will irritate your skin.

Myth #17: The virus was manufactured in a lab and was deliberately released. 

Fact: According to John Hopkins Medicine, viral outbreaks are common when an animal undergoes changes and passes the virus to humans, which is the likely origin of the coronavirus.

Myth #18: The virus only affects the elderly.

Fact: People who are elderly or have compromised immune systems are at a greater risk for severe illness if they contract the virus, according to WHO. But anyone of any age can contract and spread the virus to others, which is why it's important for everyone to take precautions and frequently wash their hands.     

Myth #19: The pets at home can spread the new virus

Fact: There is no such evidence at present that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is a good practice to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets.

(Edited by Kanishk Singh)


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