Coronavirus: Most dangerous myths about COVID-19, debunked by WHO
The World Health Organization has debunked 13 of the most common coronavirus myths.
As quickly as news reports about the coronavirus outbreak has spread, so too have chain Whatsapp messages, emails, and social media posts about the supposed testing and prevention techniques. You've probably seen them yourself: surefire ways to determine if you have the disease, or simple tricks to avoid getting it. And while some of the advice is easy to spot as false and disregard, other suggestions sound plausible. It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction.
To keep you informed, the World Health Organization (WHO) has shared a list of some of the coronavirus myths that are being passed around, and debunked 13 of the most common coronavirus myths. The next time someone forwards you one of these so-called tips, hit delete:
Myth: Cold weather and snow can kill the new coronavirus.
Fact: There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases. The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or washing them with soap and water.
Myth: COVID-19 virus cannot be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates.
Fact: From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in all areas, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
Myth: Taking a hot bath prevents the new coronavirus disease.
Fact: Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
Myth: The new coronavirus can be transmitted through mosquito bites.
Fact: To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus (that causes COVID-19) which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.
Myth: Hand dryers are effective in killing the new coronavirus.
Fact: Hand dryers are not effective in killing the novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV. To protect yourself against COVID-19, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels.
Myth: Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people infected with the new coronavirus.
Fact: Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus. However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever. This is because it takes between two and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.
Myth: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body can kill the new coronavirus.
Fact: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or your eyes, and mouth. Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.
Myth: Vaccines against pneumonia can protect you against the new coronavirus.
Fact: Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against COVID-19. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts. Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.
Myth: Regularly rinsing your nose with saline helps prevent infection with the new coronavirus.
Fact: There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus. There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing your nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections, like COVID-19.
Myth: Eating garlic can help prevent infection with the new coronavirus.
Fact: Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the COVID-19 outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.
Myth: The new coronavirus affects older people.
Fact: People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene, and good respiratory hygiene.
Myth: Antibiotics are effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus.
Fact: No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. The 2019-nCoV is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.
Myth: There are specific medicines to prevent and treat the new coronavirus.
Fact: To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those infected with 2019-nCoV should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials. WHO has said that it is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range of partners.