14 myths about coronavirus (COVID-19)

miniature toy people in medical setting
© StopperOhana

In a world of rapidly disseminated information, and misinformation, the WHO has published a list of mythbusters.

The Internet is a marvel of amazingness. But with all marvels of amazingness, it has its drawbacks – the most pressing which may be the rate at which it spreads misinformation. Whether repeating incorrect public statements, circulating wacky conspiracy theories, or popularizing straight up wives' tales, there is a lot of fiction out there being peddled as fact. And it's all fun and games ... until a pandemic hits!

With this in mind, the World Health Organization (WHO) has published a list of mythbusters regarding the new coronavirus, and we thought we would do our part in helping spread the facts.

MYTH: Cold weather and snow can kill the new coronavirus

WHO graphic on coronavirusWHO/Public Domain
The WHO says that there is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases – the normal body temperature remains generally constant, regardless of the weather. "The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water," they add.

MYTH: Taking a hot bath prevents the new coronavirus

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. As with cold weather, the normal body temperature remains constant, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. The WHO adds that an extremely hot bath may actually burn you.

MYTH: The new coronavirus can be transmitted through goods manufactured in China or any country reporting COVID-19 cases

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
"Even though the new coronavirus can stay on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (depending on the type of surface), it is very unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after being moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures," notes the organization.

MYTH: The new coronavirus can be transmitted through mosquitoes

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
There has yet to be any information or evidence suggesting that the new coronavirus can be transmitted by mosquitoes. As a respiratory virus, the new coronavirus spreads primarily through "droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose."

MYTH: Hand dryers are effective in killing the new coronavirus

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
Hand dryers are not effective in killing the new coronavirus. That said, you should frequently clean your hands and dry them.

MYTH: Ultraviolet disinfection lamps should be used to sterilize hands

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
The WHO puts it bluntly: "UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation."

MYTH: Thermal scanners are decisive in detecting the new coronavirus

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
While thermal scanners can detect people who have developed a fever because of infection with the new coronavirus, they do not detect people who may be infected but are not yet experiencing fever. 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 will kill the new coronavirus

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
Don't do this. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body; but they can be harmful to the mucous membranes The WHO notes, "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

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
Vaccines against pneumonia, like pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus. The new virus is so novel that it requires its own vaccine, which researchers are working on.

MYTH: Regularly rinsing your nose with saline can help prevent infection with the new coronavirus

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
While there is some evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline can help people get over the common cold more quickly, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections. "There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus," states the organization.

MYTH: Eating garlic can help prevent infection with the new coronavirus

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
Garlic is a superfood that may have some antimicrobial properties, but, "there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus."

MYTH: The new coronavirus only affects older people

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus, but older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill. But not exclusively, as can be seen in this news clip showing a very sick 32-year-old man who had no pre-existing conditions.

MYTH: Antibiotics are effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
Antibiotics kill bacteria; coronavirus is, yes, a virus. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment, however, antibiotics may be given at the hospital when bacterial co-infection is possible.

MYTH: There are specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus

graphic about coronavirus mythsWHO/Public Domain
As of now, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. However, notes the WHO, "those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care."For more information, visit these pages. And don't forget to wash your hands!
Editor's note: Myth number six has been updated to more accurately reflect the WHO's language on ultraviolet disinfection lamps.
14 myths about coronavirus (COVID-19)
In a world of rapidly disseminated information, and misinformation, the WHO has published a list of mythbusters.

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