We spoke to the National Helpline about the biggest coronavirus myths. Here is what they said.
Talk to anyone on the street about the virus and you will be met with confusion and a complete misunderstanding of the disease.
The coronavirus that is slowly spreading across the world has instilled fear in the global community. As a result, there is a lot of misinformation about the disease - where it comes from, what it does, what can be done to prevent and cure it. Thanks to social media and messengers, the myths have become an ‘infodemic’. This is a worrying situation because if the virus becomes an issue in India, the public will not know how to protect itself. The cornerstone of public health is disseminating simple, accurate information. Talk to anyone on the street about the virus and you will be met with confusion and a complete misunderstanding of the disease.
To start with, coronavirus es are a family of viruses that cause disease in humans and animals. Common colds and respiratory issues are often caused by types of coronavirus es as well. COVID-19 , which was first seen in China in December last year, is scary because there is no known treatment or vaccine available yet. The common cold has a mortality rate of 0.1%, whereas COVID-19 is at around 2.5% - though it is still a little early to state this with certainty.
COVID-19 is a zoonotic virus and has been tracked to a wet market in Wuhan, China. It is suspected that bats were the primary carriers, but the intermediary species has still not been determined. The symptoms are similar to the common cold - coughing, sneezing and a fever. In some cases, there is gastrointestinal distress as well, and in severe cases, the lungs are weakened due to pneumonia-like symptoms.
The WHO has maintained that the best way to prevent infection is to regularly and thoroughly wash your hands especially before eating and practising respiratory etiquette such as sneezing into your elbow, instead of your hands. The infection is spread mostly through droplets that are inhaled or can lie on surfaces and be transmitted to the body on coming in contact with them.
Let’s take a look at some common misconceptions about the virus. We went through Whatsapp forwards and spoke to people in a south Delhi locality about their knowledge of the disease. We then called the National coronavirus helpline at +91-11-23978046 and cross-checked these claims.
Myth 1: The coronavirus is caused by chicken and fast food.
This was the most commonly believed myth. It was claimed that chicken and eggs can cause coronavirus so it is best to not eat any meat for a while. The helpline said that this is untrue. It is believed that the consumption and handling of raw animal meat may have caused the virus to be transmitted to humans. What this means is that if your meat is thoroughly cooked and made in a clean environment, there will be no risk of you getting the coronavirus through it.
The WHO recommends using separate chopping boards and utensils when handling meat. The other precautions are routine - if you choose to eat out, make sure the place follows hygiene standards and is clean.
Myth 2: Keep the throat moist, since a dry throat will harbour the virus.
This message was very popular on messaging apps. The thinking is that a well-lubricated throat will transport the virus to the stomach where it will be destroyed by stomach acid. The helpline said that this claim was false and holds no merit. While you must stay hydrated, don’t expect drinking water to keep you safe from the coronavirus . Instead, maintain distance from anyone who appears to be sick and sneezing - stay at least six feet away since germs can spread in an aerosol form.
Myth 3: Drink garlic water to avoid getting the coronavirus .
This is an age-old home remedy for colds and fevers. Garlic is believed to work as a mild analgesic and bring relief from aches and pains. The helpline said that there has been no documentation in the medical literature about the effectiveness of garlic on coronavirus . So while it may have some ameliorative effects, don’t expect garlic to be a silver bullet against the disease.
As for cures, currently, no drug has been confirmed to combat the novel coronavirus . Drug trials are taking place, and some existing drugs that are used for HIV treatment and Ebola may prove to be useful as well.
Myth 4: Buying products that originated in China will lead to the disease.
Unless you are involved with illegal wildlife trade, this should not be an issue for you. The virus is unlikely to survive on packaging material such as cardboard or plastic for too long, according to the WHO and US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Therefore, it is extremely unlikely that you will get the infection if you receive a Chinese package. It is good practice to wash your hands after handling the package anyway, though.
Myth 5: Pets can spread the disease as well.
So far there is no evidence that cats and dogs are transmitting the disease. Having said that, you must wash your hands after playing or grooming your pets to stop the spread of other kinds of infections.
Myth 6: If you get the coronavirus , you will die.
It is understandable to expect this, but initial studies have shown that the mortality rate for the disease is around 2.5%. Older men and those with preexisting conditions and compromised immunity are more likely to succumb to the disease, but 81% cases so far have been mild.
There is indeed no cure yet, but assistive medical care plays a lifesaving role.
Myth 7: Face masks can prevent the disease.
This point is a little controversial. For starters, health organizations and experts across the world are urging people not to hoard masks since there is a global shortage and this prevents those who need them the most from getting them.
As for preventive capability, masks do provide a degree of protection, but this is by no means complete. Aerosols can penetrate spaces in the masks and infect the person. Further, research has shown that the disease can also be spread through the eyes.
However, if you are coughing, it is a good idea to wear a mask since you will be less likely to spread the infection this way.
For more information, read our article on Coronavirus.
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.
The information provided here is intended to provide free education about certain medical conditions and certain possible treatment. It is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis, treatment, and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. If you believe you, your child or someone you know suffers from the conditions described herein, please see your health care provider immediately. Do not attempt to treat yourself, your child, or anyone else without proper medical supervision. You acknowledge and agree that neither myUpchar nor firstpost is liable for any loss or damage which may be incurred by you as a result of the information provided here, or as a result of any reliance placed by you on the completeness, accuracy or existence of any information provided herein.
Second COVID-19 wave in Maharashtra likely in Jan-Feb; govt asks authorities to not get complacent on testing
In a circular, the Maharashtra govt also asked local authorities to ensure there are testing labs in each district and municipal corporation limits
WHO emergencies director hailed the 'tremendous amount of scientific investigation' done by the Chinese, but said international experts needed to be reassured about the quality of the science
Skilled home healthcare for discharged COVID-19 patients may lead to better outcomes, faster recovery
the findings of this study suggest that many adverse reactions and persistence of debilitating symptoms can be reduced substantially by providing home healthcare to discharged patients