COVID-19: 8 common myths about the new Coronavirus - busted

Given all the hype around COVID-19, it is important that you verify the source of your information and not jump to conclusions.

Myupchar February 12, 2020 18:23:27 IST
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COVID-19: 8 common myths about the new Coronavirus - busted

With the identification of the new coronavirus came the spread of infection - and also the spread misinformation around the world. Some of this is understandable - the virus was unknown before the outbreak in December 2019 and there is currently no cure for it. This environment of fear and panic, along with globalization and social media, provides fertile land for myths to travel. Here is a list of common myths rebutted by facts: 

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Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

Myth 1: Hundreds of thousands of people have died from the virus.

A video of a Chinese nurse claiming that 100,000 people have been infected and ten times the number of reported deaths have actually taken place has tens of thousands of views online. However, as per the last count, 1,116 people have died from the virus globally, and 99% of the infection cases have been in China with most of them concentrated in the Hubei province where the virus erupted. This information is corroborated by the WHO (World Health Organization). 

Myth 2: The Chinese are rounding up suspected cases and considering euthanizing them.

This is far from the truth. Government officials in high-risk provinces have imposed a lockdown on cities — public buildings are closed, roads are relatively empty and people are staying indoors — in an attempt to reduce transmission and stop the disease in its tracks. Further, reports have said that health officials have been told to go door to door and check people’s temperatures and have asked citizens to report themselves or those displaying symptoms to health authorities in an effort to quell the outbreak. However, there have been no credible reports of the government euthanizing infected people. As for the lockdown, until there is no vaccine, containing the disease remains the safest option. 

Myth 3: Home remedies such as eating garlic, sesame oil, practising yoga and following traditional medicine will cure coronavirus .

As mentioned above, there is no cure yet for the coronavirus . Scientists all over the world are in the process of developing and testing possible vaccines as we speak but one won't be available for 12-18 months. Some of these home remedies can be harmful in the long run as they may discourage people from following the established best practices. 

The best way you can protect yourself is by regularly washing your hands and avoiding contact with people displaying signs of the flu. If you consume meat, make sure it is well cooked and clean. If you feel any of the symptoms coming on, consult your doctor immediately.

Myth 4: Wearing a mask will protect you from the virus in all situations.

Experts have said that masks can’t provide full protection from the virus. This is because masks bought by the public are usually not well-fitted enough for an individual which means that aerosols and microorganisms can slip in from the corners. However, you should wear a mask if you are sneezing and coughing since it will limit the spread of the virus. 

WHO says that before putting on a mask, make sure your hands have been cleaned with soap. Avoid touching the mask or rubbing your nose since this can spread infection from the hands. Replace the mask once it gets damp and don’t reuse it - dispose of it safely. 

Myth 5: Eating any meat-based food can give you the virus.

While the virus is zoonotic (spreads from animals to humans), it is not clear which species plays an intermediary role in transmitting the disease. In any case, meat that is handled properly — meaning that the butcher and chef maintain cleanliness and use clean equipment to prepare the dish — and cooked thoroughly, you will be at minimal risk of getting the virus. 

Myth 6: Getting the flu or pneumonia vaccine will protect you from the coronavirus .

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or treatment available yet for the new coronavirus . While symptoms mimic those of a cold and pneumonia, the strain is still different. The flu shot only protects you from four different flu viruses and nothing else. The WHO said that it will be 18 months before a vaccine for the new coronavirus is available.  

Myth 7: Getting packages from China can spread the virus.

According to the latest evidence, the virus cannot stay alive on surfaces for too long so this does not pose danger. 

Myth 8: Household pets can spread the disease.

According to the WHO, the infection cannot spread from dogs or cats to humans. Having said that, it's a good idea to take adequate precautions after playing with your pets. Wash your hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of any other kind of infections. 

Given all the hype around COVID-19 , it is important that you verify the source of your information and not jump to conclusions. The WHO publishes a daily report and is active on Twitter - trusted sources such as these should be relied on for educating yourself and others around you.

For more information, read our article on  Coronavirus Infection: Symptoms, Types, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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