With the exponential rise in the number of people affected by the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19, there is a rise in misconceptions about how it spreads and what can be done about it. But are they myths or facts? Here is a list of Mythbusters.1,2,3
Living in the tropics (in a country like Singapore) am I safe from the virus? Singapore is hot and humid, not cold like China!
No, you can still be affected by the virus. WHO reports that the climate is not a deterrent for the transmission. In fact, it is found that the virus can spread in all areas. The only known way to be safe is to take protective measures like washing your hands regularly and self-isolation or social distancing.
I heard that the virus dies in the heat! Then is it not better to take a hot bath instead of just washing the hands?
No, a hot bath will not help kill the virus. The virus can still get transmitted. Washing your hands thoroughly or using a 60 % alcohol-based sanitizer is still the best way to prevent contamination.
So, if alcohol-based sanitizers kill the coronavirus can I just use alcohol or chlorine as a body spray to protect myself?
No. Alcohol-based sanitizer is an option in case you don’t have access to water and soap. Spraying chlorine or alcohol on yourself can be harmful to your skin and eyes and doesn’t help.
Rinsing my nose or gargling with saline water helps if I catch a cold. Will it work against the new coronavirus too?
Rinsing your nose or gargling with saline water can reduce symptoms like pain and itchiness that are due to inflammation, but there is no expected benefit in terms of killing or curing COVID-19, which is a respiratory infection.
Can I wear a mask for my own protection?
Wear a mask if you are ill, coughing, having a flu or when you are outdoors. If you are not a caregiver, wear a reusable mask.The idea is that way you can minimize spreading the disease to others. Also, if and when you wear a disposable mask, use it and dispose of it properly. Disposable masks should be used judiciously as there is a global shortage!
Will using turmeric and garlic help? It is believed to help prevent and fight many diseases!
Though turmeric and garlic are healthy foods and are used in traditional medicine and home remedies, there is no scientific proof that eating them protects people against the new coronavirus.
Do we have a cure for COVID-19 yet? Antibiotics, vaccines or any medicine at all?!
No, there is no cure or medication yet. A word about antibiotics – they don’t work against viruses! Scientists and researchers are working round the clock for a cure.
Mosquitos spread other diseases like malaria and dengue. But what about this new COVID-19?
No. Don’t worry about mosquitoes. COVID-19 causing coronavirus attacks the respiratory system and is found to spread when you come in contact with the ‘cough droplets’’ of an infected person. So, it is better to make no or minimal contact with those who cough and sneeze.
Is it safe to open packages of products manufactured in China or other countries that have reported an outbreak?
Yes, it is safe to open packages! Though it is found that the new coronavirus can stay on a variety of surfaces, it is unlikely to remain after being moved around so much. But if you are doubtful and worried, clean the surface first with a disinfectant. Also, wash your hands with soap or sanitizer thoroughly.
- Q&A on coronaviruses [Internet]. Who.int. World Health Organization; 2020 [cited 2020 Mar 21]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
- Myth busters [Internet]. who.int. World Health Organization; 2019 [cited 2020 Mar 21]. Available from: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters
- Publishing HH. Coronavirus Resource Center [Internet]. Harvard Health. [cited 2020 Mar 21]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resource-center#COVID