Debunking Some Myths About Coronavirus

Joynul Abedin

12 March, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Debunking Some Myths About Coronavirus

Coronavirus has become a burning issue all over the world. Everyone is talking about coronavirus (COVID-19). Different types of concepts have been created among the common people. While some of their concepts are true, there are many myths among them as well. Here are the answers to some common assertions.

It is mentionable that coronavirus is a family of viruses, of which COVID-19 is a strain that typically causes the common cold and upper respiratory symptoms. It is a common human virus similar to rhinovirus, RSV and parainfluenza. It is spread mainly through respiratory droplets, coughing and sneezing. It can also spread if you touch your face (particularly eye) with a recently exposed hand. The time of onset of the virus is 2-14 days from exposure with most patients exhibiting little to no symptoms.


Myth 1: Getting the coronavirus is a death sentence

Fact: Well, there is a lot we still do not know about the coronavirus disease, but based on the data that is coming out, it seems to be a mild type of viral infection. About 81% of people who are infected with the coronavirus have mild cases of COVID-19, according to a study published on February 18 by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. About 13.8% report severe illness, meaning they have shortness of breath, or require supplemental oxygen, and about 4.7% are critical, meaning they face respiratory failure, multi-organ failure or septic shock. The data thus suggests that only around 2.3% of people infected with COVID-19 die of the virus. COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus, much like SARS and MERS but with a much lower fatality rate (SARS 10% and MERS 35%).


Myth: New coronavirus affects older people

Fact: 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 and 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.


Myth: Thermal scanners can detect people infected with the new coronavirus

Fact: 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. According to WHO, thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever, a symptom of the virus. However, the scanners cannot detect people who have been infected but are not yet sick with fever - which can take between two and 10 days to develop after a person is infected.


Myth: Regular rinsing your nose with saline helps prevent infection with the new coronavirus

Fact: 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.


Myth: Eating garlic will help prevent infection with the new coronavirus

Fact: This dubious claim has been spreading like wildfire across social media. Though it is possible that garlic may have some antimicrobial properties, there is “no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus”, says the WHO.


Myth: Pets can spread the coronavirus at home

Fact: At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.


Myth: It is not safe to receive a package from China

Fact: It is safe to receive letters or packages from China, according to the World Health Organization. Previous research has found that coronaviruses do not survive long on objects such as letters and packages. Based on what we know about similar coronaviruses such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, experts think this new coronavirus survives poorly on surfaces. A past study found that these related coronaviruses can stay on surfaces such as metal, glass or plastic for as long as nine days, according to a study published on February 6 in The Journal of Hospital Infection. And so ‘there is likely very low risk of spreading from packaging products that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,’ according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC, the leading national public health institute of the United States.