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COVID-19 Myth-busters

How to contain spread of pandemic 2019-nCoV? Myths vs Facts!

A compendium of facts about Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) compiled from the statements of World Health Organization busts myths and throws light on the precautions to be taken

As the live update page of the world map shows the rapid spread of coronavirus, knowing facts would help protect ourselves and contain the spread.

The most recent and rapidly spreading virus throughout the world, now declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) is the Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). It is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and not been previously identified in humans.

Its first outbreak happened in the Wuhan province of China that is believed to be the epicenter of the disease. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), Esri (updated 16/3/2020) data the COVID-19 has encroached a total of 148 countries, with 168,019 confirmed cases and 6,610 deaths worldwide.

According to the WHO the countries with the highest number of more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus till date are China (81,077), Italy (24,747), Iran (14,991), Republic of Korea (8,236), Spain (7,753), France (5,380), Germany (4,838), Switzerland (2,200), USA (1,678), United Kingdom (1,395), Netherlands (1,413), Norway (1,169), Belgium (1,085).

In India, the second most populous country in the world, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 114 since the outbreak. As indicated in this live update infographic, these numbers are subject to continuous rise as the virus is seen to be spreading expeditiously. The bigger the size of the circle, the more are the number of cases of COVID-19.

The virus is undoubtedly spreading throughout the world very quickly and so are the myths about this disease. Therefore here are the myths as well as the myth busters regarding this virus issued by the World Health Organization (WHO)

Myth 1 : COVID-19 virus cannot be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates

Myth buster : 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.

Fact: The new coronavirus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates

Myth 2: Cold weather and snow cannot kill the new coronavirus.

Myth Buster:? 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.

Fact: Cold weather and snow cannot kill the new coronavirus.

Myth 3: Taking a hot bath prevents the new coronavirus disease

Myth buster: 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.

Fact: Taking a hot bath does not prevent the new coronavirus disease

Myth 4: The new coronavirus can be transmitted through mosquito bites.

Myth buster: 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 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 rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.

Fact: The new coronavirus cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites.

Myth 5: Are hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus?

Myth buster: No. Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.

Fact: Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV

Myth 6: Can an ultraviolet disinfection lamp kill the new coronavirus?

Myth buster: UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.

Fact: UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as they do not kill the virus.

Myth 7: Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people infected with the new coronavirus

Myth buster: 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.

Fact: Thermal scanners are effective, but they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever.

Myth 8: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body can kill the new coronavirus.

Myth buster: No. 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 mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.

Fact: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body.

Myth 9: Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus?

Myth buster: No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Hemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

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.

Fact: Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Hemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

Myth 10: Can regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?

Myth buster: No. 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 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.

Fact: There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.

Myth 11: Eating garlic helps prevent infection with the new coronavirus.

Myth buster: Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.

Fact: There is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.

Myth 12: Does the new coronavirus affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible?

Myth buster: 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.

Fact: People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Myth 13: Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?

Myth buster: No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. The new coronavirus (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.

Fact: Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.

To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

However, those infected with the virus 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 is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners.

Sumana Acharya is a researcher at VikasAnvesh Foundation, Pune.

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