It's been a little over two months since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) occurred back in December 2019. News and updates of the disease have been pouring in from everywhere and in the midst of all the panic, plenty of misconceptions have been conjured up and spread online.
With various myths swirling the Internet, we've made a list out of them to debunk and find some clarity about the misconceptions people have about coronavirus.
Myth #1: The coronavirus can be spread through the air
Fact: The coronavirus is primarily spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. While it is transported through the air, it is not through an airborne route. This means that the droplets only travel about 1 metre to 2 metres from the source of fluid before falling to the ground without suspending in the air. So, unless you're within the infectious person's area of exposure and have intercepted their sneezes and coughs, it is highly unlikely for you to catch the virus.
Myth #2: Items shipped from China can transport the coronavirus
Fact: Yes, viruses have the potential to live on surfaces but there are several factors to consider when it comes to how well they survive outside the human body. For them to thrive and remain active, cold and dry environments are ideal. They are able to spread more easily in lower temperatures and low humidity, which explains why people fall sick more often during colder seasons. The type of surfaces also determines their lifespan - viruses live longer on hard surfaces (metal and plastic) compared to softer surfaces (fabrics).
With these circumstances combined and the time it actually takes for letters, envelopes or packages to be delivered from abroad, your risk of contracting the virus through these items is close to zero.
Myth #3: Wearing a mask helps to prevent contracting the coronavirus
Fact: If you're sick, wearing a mask will certainly reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others. For healthcare workers, specific masks like the N95 can protect them while they attend to sick patients. However, the lightweight disposable surgical mask is not the ultimate safeguard measure against coronavirus since it doesn't fit tightly and may allow tiny infected droplets to enter through the gaps. Also, you can very easily pick up the virus on your hands and catch it by rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth.
So, on top of avoiding touching your face, what has proven to be effective according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is to frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water. Alternatively, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if you have no immediate access to water.
Myth #4: Vaccines and antibiotics can cure the coronavirus
Fact: Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria and cannot prevent, treat or kill viruses. The same goes for vaccines against pneumonia like pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine which are ineffective in fighting the coronavirus. Since COVID-19 is a really new and different kind of virus, it would require its own unique vaccine. With that being said, it is still recommended for you to take the necessary medication and shots for general health purposes. Consult with your doctor about which vaccines you should be taking and for any other health-related issues you may be facing.
Myth #5: Using essential oils, mouthwash, salt water and other substances can protect me from the coronavirus
Fact: There's nothing wrong with practicing self-care methods like using essential oils and chewing on garlic. But if you're looking to protect or prevent catching the disease with these home remedies, you're out of luck. There have been no evidence reported from the outbreak that any one of these things can shield anyone from the coronavirus. This includes spraying alcohol or chlorine on your body which are both dangerous and definitely not recommended.
Myth #6: Only the elderly and people with pre-existing symptoms can get the coronavirus
Fact: The coronavirus affects everybody, including children. Regardless of age, anyone can get infected by the disease. Older people and those with pre-exisiting medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease, however, are a lot more vulnerable to the virus. With a weaker immune system, they have a higher chance of falling sick and contracting the disease.
Myth #7: Pets can carry the coronavirus
Fact: The coronavirus is believed to have originated in a live market in Wuhan, China where the source is likely to be wildlife. As of today, there have been no scientific evidence showing that pets can spread or get infected with COVID-19. However, this doesn't mean that your companion animal is completely germ-free. They are still able to pass various common bacteria to you such as E.coli and Salmonella. So, keeping your hygiene in check after playing with them is very important.
Myth #8: A person who has been quarantined for the coronavirus can still spread illness to others
Fact: A person is quarantined when they've been exposed to the disease but have yet to develop symptoms of the illness. For COVID-19, a person will be quarantined for 14 days from the last date of exposure. The 2-week period is used to gauge the person's health status as it is the longest incubation period observed for similar coronaviruses. Once someone is released from quarantine, they are not considered a risk of spreading the virus because they have not developed the illness during the incubation period.
In the face of an epidemic, it's important not to take everything we see online at face value. Do your research, refer to official health sites and be as well-informed as possible before sharing any virus related information ?