The Tropical Medical Bureau has issued a 15-fact coronavirus myth-buster
Has the Covid-19 Whatsapp got you worried?
As the world battles to get to grips with the spread of coronavirus, rumour and misinformation are rife (who hasn’t had a photo message of an empty loo roll shelf at Tesco?).
Now the Tropical Medical Bureau, the leading travel medicine clinic group in Ireland, has issued a list of myth-busting facts to tackle the many myths that are currently in circulation.
Should you lock yourself away from humanity until the virus is controlled or can you, with sensible precautions, get on with your life?
Here, the TMB doctors attempt to dispel some of the most common concerns:
1. Myth: Getting Covid-19 is a death sentence.
“Current information shows that only very few of those who contract this disease will die. This is mainly in the more vulnerable people – those who have an underlying health condition or are in older age. For the majority of those infected, the virus will result in typical flu symptoms and should be fine with treatment.
2. Myth: Covid-19 is more contagious than the flu or measles.
“The latest information shows that it is more contagious than flu, but a lot less than Measles. Remember, annually the flu infects about 1 billion people with over ½ million deaths worldwide.
3. Myth: Going to work, walking down the street or into shops is just too high a risk so I have to stay at home.
“The virus is usually spread through coughs and sneezes – like many other respiratory diseases – but, in most cases, this is only from very close contact with the infected individual.
4. Myth: If one person on a plane or in a train has the disease everybody will be infected.
“The risk is extremely high for those within 1m of an infected person who is coughing or sneezing openly. However, if an individual uses tissues or coughs/sneezes into the elbow region, the risk will be considerably lowered.
5. Myth: Hand gels are the best means of protecting myself.
“While good quality hand-gels are helpful, careful washing of your hands, avoiding touching your face and staying away from those with obvious symptoms (flu-like illness, coughing, runny eyes, fever etc) is the best way to avoid contracting the illness. Please Note: hand gels are not effective if your hands are visibly soiled or very dirty. According to the WHO, hand gels must be at least 60% alcohol in order to be effective.
6. Myth: Face masks will protect me from contracting Covid-19.
“Unless you are using a very specialised face mask, the air surrounding you will leak in around the edges of the mask and it is just as though you were not using the mask at all. Masks are helpful to catch some of the virus particles from those who already have the disease and are coughing but they need to be changed regularly and very carefully, otherwise, they are a risk factor. If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected Covid-19 infection.
7. Myth: If I buy food, then boil or cook it for our meals that should kill any lurking virus.
“This is true but, the problem may be from you handling the food before it is heated. Take care and wash your own hands regularly after touching anything which could have been contaminated. This handwashing advice is hugely recommended after using public transport or after being on an escalator.
8. Myth: There is a homeopathy vaccine available.
Currently, there is absolutely no vaccine available against coronavirus Covid-19 at this time and there is not likely to be one available for some time.
9. Myth: All vaccines are useless against Covid-19.
“Technically at this time that is perfectly correct. However, we do know that most of the serious cases with this respiratory viral disease are among those with an underlying health issue. For example, in many of the more serious cases of flu it may not be the virus itself which kills the individual but, rather an associated or secondary bacterial infection. The illness associated with Covid-19 may leave that individual more at risk of other infectious diseases. On that basis it is wise for those at a particular risk to ensure they are up to date with the yearly flu vaccine but also to consider having vaccination cover against Pneumococcal disease which is a serious bacterial infection affecting the respiratory system.
10. Myth: International travel is a huge risk and should always be avoided.
“At this time, the risk of contracting the disease from undertaking flights or visiting most countries of the world is known to be minimal. It is wise to avoid regions where there is a very significant amount of cases being reported but, for most destinations, the risk remains very small.
11. Myth: Covid-19 is the most deadly disease to hit mankind.
“While Covid-19 is spreading quickly in some regions of the world and has a mortality rate of 2-3%, it is still not by any means as deadly as other diseases. For example, SARS killed 10% of those who became infected and MERS is responsible for between 30% to 40% of deaths among those who get the disease.
12. Myth: The new coronavirus can be transmitted through goods manufactured in China or any country reporting Covid-19 cases.
“Even though Covid-19 can last on surfaces from a few hours up to several days (depending on the type of surface), it is highly unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after being moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures. If you think a surface may be contaminated use a disinfectant to clean it. After touching it, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
13. Myth: Covid-19 can be transmitted through mosquito bites.
“Coronavirus Covid-19 cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites. To date, there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that it could be transmitted by mosquitoes. Covid-19 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.
14. Myth: Eating garlic can help prevent infection of the new coronavirus.
“Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak to suggest that eating garlic has protected people from coronavirus Covid-19.
15. Myth: Cocaine can protect against coronavirus.
“Cocaine cannot protect against any coronavirus or other infective diseases. It is an addictive, dangerous drug that should not be used under any circumstances.”
Note: This especially bizarre myth originated in a social media post and was shared thousands of times all over the world.