As the number of cases of the novel coronavirus continues to rise worldwide, another issue that’s hitting everyone hard is the confusion regarding the misinformation that’s been floating around the Internet. The best way out of this is to identify which are myths and which are facts.
Before you panic, or hit ‘send’ on that Whatsapp forward, or rush to stock up on supplies to secure your health, read through to know the common myths about the coronavirus, as misinformation can be as fatal as the virus itself!
1. Face Masks Are 100% Effective Against Contracting the Coronavirus
The most common myth is that wearing a face mask is a sure shot way to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19. It isn’t and here’s why. For starters, paper-thin masks which are easily available, are not that effective in blocking out minute particles from the sneezes and coughs around you. Also, most of us who aren’t used to wearing a mask are more likely to touch the areas around our face to adjust the mask when it starts to feel uncomfortable. This only increases the chances of bringing germs to our eyes and mouth. Health experts advise that you don’t need to wear a face mask unless you’re sick or caring for someone who’s sick. Face masks should be prioritised for caregivers instead, as the masks are in short supply these days.
2. COVID-19 Virus Cannot Be Transmitted in Hot and Humid Areas
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19 can be transmitted even in areas with a hot and humid climate. It doesn’t matter what climate you live in, taking pre-emptive measures like washing your hands thoroughly and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing are critical in preventing the spread of the virus.
3. Taking a Hot Bath Kills the Virus
Once a virus enters your body, it begins to weaken your immune system. So, no. Hot baths will not kill the virus, as the virus lies deep within the cells inside your body. Your body regulates its temperature very meticulously and won’t allow it to rise much, definitely not with hot baths. The most effective way to fight the virus on the surface is by washing your hands with soap and water.
4. Hand Dryers Are Highly Effective in Killing the Coronavirus
No. According to the WHO, hand dryers do not kill the coronavirus. The best way to protect yourself and others from the virus is to follow a rigorous personal hygiene process of frequently washing your hands with soap and water or cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Once clean, dry your hands well.
5. Spraying Alcohol or Chlorine Over Your Body Kills the Coronavirus
No. Spraying alcohol or chlorine over yourself will not rid the body of the viruses that have already entered it, and don’t even try to do so! Spraying these substances can be harmful to your clothes or the mucous membranes (i.e. mouth, eyes). Do know that both alcohol and chlorine can be used as disinfectants for surfaces, but they need to be used only as recommended.
6. Only Elderly People Are Susceptible to the Coronavirus
While it’s true that older people are particularly susceptible to the coronavirus, younger and middle-aged adults, are far from immune from catching the virus. In conclusion, the elderly, people with pre-existing medical conditions and compromised immune systems are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.
7. Pets Can Transmit the Coronavirus Too
One myth, that’s brought about a severe and undesirable effect, is that of pets and animals spreading the coronavirus. This has resulted in an increase in the number of pets being abandoned by their families. The WHO has confirmed that presently there’s no evidence that suggests that your pets can be infected with or spread the coronavirus. However, it’s always recommended to wash your hands thoroughly after contact with pets.
8. Social Distancing Is Not Necessary for Those Who Don’t Have the Coronavirus
False! The reason so many sporting events, festivals, and cultural celebrations have been cancelled is because the closure of such massive gatherings is essential to slow down or stop the spread of the coronavirus. Research conducted at Johns Hopkins Medicine found that ‘keeping at least six feet away between people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19’. So think twice before you casually head out to ‘just catch up’ with your friends and loved ones. Similarly, self-quarantine is highly recommended by health professionals not only for people who are symptomatic but also for those having a recent travel history to heavily infected areas.
In light of the current circumstances, the WHO has launched a messaging service to keep people safe and informed about the coronavirus. This service enables WHO to relay information directly to the people who need it. Through the messaging service, one can stay updated with the latest news and information on the coronavirus, including details on symptoms, measures to take to stay safe, the latest situation reports and real-time numbers. Users have to type ‘Hi’ to activate the conversation, which opens a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.
While handing out personal advice is often well-meaning, it’s equally important to focus on science to ensure that whatever is being recommended is based on facts and not myths. It is very easy to get wrapped up in the information about coronavirus while the world unites to try to understand and manage it. Staying calm is the need of the hour while preparing and educating oneself based on science and research.
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