COVID-19: 10 common coronavirus myths debunked

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With coronavirus sweeping across the world, it comes as no surprise that people are seriously panicking. For the uninitiated, coronavirus causes a disease known as COVID-19. Its symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, and shortness of breath. The scientifically inaccurate information about coronavirus and how to prevent/cure it being circulated on social media and some incompetent news agencies is only making matters worse. To help you cut through the vast amount of misinformation, we have debunked a few of the popular myths about coronavirus in this article. Check them out.

1 MYTH: Coronavirus is no more dangerous than seasonal flu.

While it is true that the symptoms of coronavirus are no worse than those of seasonal flu, its mortality rate is higher. While the seasonal flu kills less than 1% of those infected, the WHO has confirmed that 3.4% of the reported COVID-19 patients have died globally (as of March 4, 2020). So, yes, any flu-like symptoms you experience at this point do need to be addressed a bit more seriously.

2 MYTH: Coronavirus only kills older people, so younger people and kids do not need to worry.

The mortality rate of COVID-19 increases with age. It ranges between 0.2-0.4% between the ages of 0 to 49 and steadily increases thereon. It peaks at 14.8% among people who are 80+ years old. While it is true that older people and people with pre-existing health conditions are more vulnerable to this disease, anyone of any age can get infected. Moreover, it can cause some serious respiratory problems, regardless of your age or health condition.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are certain groups of people who are more susceptible to coronavirus, such as healthcare workers and the immediate family members/caregivers taking care of infected people in close quarters. Therefore, young and healthy people need to report symptoms and follow quarantine instructions carefully to protect the more vulnerable members of the society and prevent the disease from spreading.

3 MYTH: You need to be around an infected person for 10 minutes to get infected.

Though medical guidelines for the flu state that you need to be within 6 feet of an infected person (who sneezes and/or coughs) for at least 10 minutes to get infected, you can get infected by the coronavirus through shorter interactions. You can also pick up the virus from contaminated surfaces. Hence, make sure you wash and sanitize your hands as often as possible.

4 MYTH: A vaccine will be ready within a few months.

Though a coronavirus vaccine is being developed and experimented on animal models, testing it on humans to spot all side effects and making it commercially available will take much longer. In fact, it would be quick if we got it within a year. The best course of action right now is to prevent it from spreading.

5 MYTH: Home remedies can cure/prevent coronavirus.

While garlic, water, and vitamin C are great for your health, consuming them will not cure or protect you from coronavirus. Other such “remedies” making the rounds on social media are that covering your body with sesame oil, chlorine, or alcohol can kill the virus, which is not true.

You may use chemical disinfectants like chloroform, bleach, peracetic acid, ether solvents,  and 75% ethanol to kill the virus on other surfaces. But, do not, under any circumstances, apply them to your body. It will not only not kill the virus already inside your body but can also be extremely dangerous.

Stay away from infected patients and wash/sanitize your hands often to protect yourself from the virus.

6 MYTH: People who get infected by coronavirus will die.

As mentioned earlier, the mortality rate of coronavirus is 3.4%, and it is expected to go down as time passes. The reports of death caused by this virus are rarer. However, it can cause serious respiratory conditions like pneumonia and bronchitis in the elderly, small children, and people with weakened immune systems.

Since thousands of cases have been reported and the virus is continuing to spread, even a 3% mortality rate is a cause for concern.

7 MYTH: Hot climate can kill coronavirus.

The US President, Donald Trump, has suggested that coronavirus cannot survive in hotter temperatures and is likely to die out by April. However, public health experts say that there is not enough information on this novel virus, and there is no way to know if heat can kill it.

8 MYTH: Rinsing your nose regularly with saline can prevent coronavirus infection.

No, there is no scientific evidence that rinsing your nose with saline can prevent coronavirus infection. Moreover, always wash your hands before touching or cleaning your nose.

9 MYTH: Antibiotics can prevent and treat coronavirus/COVID-19.

Antibiotics only work against bacteria, not viruses. However, people being treated for COVID-19 may be administered antibiotics if they have a bacterial co-infection. 

10 MYTH: You can get infected by coronavirus through a letter/package from China.

No. Coronavirus cannot survive for long on any object, including letters and packages.

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