Coronavirus Outbreak: Busting 12 common misconceptions you may have about COVID-19

Update: This story will be updated to answer any new questions that come our way. 

There is a lot of uncertainty and confusion surrounding the spread, symptoms, and causes the disease, COVID-19.

First, let's clarify some terms:

Coronavirus is the name of a family of viruses that can cause diseases in animals and people. The coronavirus family generally caused various respiratory illnesses in people.

COVID-19 is the name of the disease in question. The name was chosen by WHO (World Health Organisation) as the disease was first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 has been classified as a pandemic because it's spread to most of the civilised world.

SARS-COV-2 is the name of the virus responsible for COVID-19.

 Coronavirus Outbreak: Busting 12 common misconceptions you may have about COVID-19

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Image credit: Flickr/NIH

Information is one of the most important ways people can protect themselves from this disease, and where you get your information from is essential as well. Trusted sources like WHO, The United Nations, the World Economic Organisation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ministry for Health and Family Welfare, and National Center for Disease Control will give you verified and authentic information. They also have a lot of visual aids and precautionary measures that you can follow in case you either are infected with the virus, SARS-CoV-2 or have imposed self-isolation at home.

Misinformation is rampant during times of trouble. A good way to deal with fake news is to arm yourself with the facts and educate others. Social media is always accessible and self-checking the information before you put it out is a good habit to inculcate during these times and to carry forward even during periods of normalcy.

Below are some of the myths and misinformation circulating on social media and messaging apps. 

Q: Can dogs spread or get infected with coronavirus?

A: This myth started out because a dog in Hong Kong was tested positive with coronavirus. However, the WHO stepped in and states that dogs can not spread the virus. While dogs are susceptible to the family of coronavirus, they are not going to get infected with this strain of the virus. 

There is an ancient cancer in dogs that has spread from Asia or Europe.

WHO has said that dogs do not transfer coronavirus to humans.

Q: Bats are the source of coronavirus

A: While there is no solid confirmation that bats are the cause of the virus scientists do suspect them. They believe that the virus was transferred from a bat to a pangolin and then transferred to a human being. However, some experts also believe that snakes, sold at a market in Wuhan, could be the source of the virus. Scientists are still trying to understand this virus however, the process has been slow. 

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Q: Can  Vitamin C help cure the virus?

A: There is no cure for COVID-19 currently but experts are working on it. No antibiotics or medicines that were used to cure SARS that first spread in China in 2002 are working on this strain of the virus either. 

Vitamin C doesn't protect you from coronavirus. Image credit: Flickr/Marco Verch

Vitamin C doesn't protect you from coronavirus. Image credit: Flickr/Marco Verch

Q: Using gaumutra will rid you of the virus?

A: Certain people have been promoting this remedy. However, there is no medical proof that this works.

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Q: Ayurveda, Homeopathy and other herbal medicines can cure/prevent coronavirus?

A: AYUSH, a division in the Government of India has released an advisory that spoke about different methods to prevent the infection from coronavirus. However, this again has no scientific backing to support the effectiveness in addressing coronaviruses. 


Q: Will the onset of heat/summers mean a decline in the spread of the virus?

A: COVID-19 stems from the family of coronavirus that has caused SARS and MERS infection. While the family of viruses typically survive better in winter, there is no definite proof that COVID-19 will play by the same rules. There is a lot of unknown surrounding this novel coronavirus. Assuming that the virus will disappear in the summer would be a false hope.

Q: Taking a hot bath or drinking hot water can kill the virus or prevent the virus

A: Coronavirus symptoms for a majority of the people infected (9 out of 10 people) include cough, mild fevers, sore throat, headache, body ache. Drinking warm water will make you feel better but it will not cure you. WHO also states that having a bath in hot water won't work since the body temperature remains at an average of 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower.

Taking a hot bath won't prevent a coronavirus infection but might burn you instead.

Taking a hot bath won't prevent a coronavirus infection but might burn you instead.

Q: Using a hand dryer or a UV light will kill the virus

A: No, these won't help sterilize your hands. Using water and soap is the only way to rid yourself of the virus. UV lights can also irritate your skin due to the radiation. Hand sanitizers that have more than 60 percent of alcohol can be used in an emergency. 

Q: Only old people are affected by the virus 

A: While older people are more affected by this virus, other people with pre-existing conditions like liver, kidney, diabetes, heart conditions, and even people who smoke can be seriously affected. Younger people can be infected but they might show milder symptoms. However, if they do no practice social distancing or quarantine themselves, they might infect people who do not have a good immune system. 

Q: Eating garlic will help prevent infection

A: No, it will not help prevent the infection. 

Eating garlic wont keep the virus away but it will help in social distancing. Image credit: Wikipedia

Eating garlic wont keep the virus away but it will help in social distancing. Image credit: Wikipedia

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

A: A study has found that the virus could be detected in the air up to three hours later, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. However, this study has not been tested by other scientists and therefore is not conclusive. There is also no proof that the virus can be transferred to one person or the other via the air. 

Q; Eating meat can cause coronavirus

A: The answer is no, the disease does not spread through consumption of chicken, mutton or fish and avoiding it does not mean you are safe. The virus spreads if someone comes in contact with the respiratory droplets of an infected person. 

Q: If you can hold your breath for ten seconds without discomfort, you don’t have COVID.

A: Dr Faheem Younus tweeted out that most young patients with Coronavirus will be able to hold their breaths for much longer than 10 seconds. And many elderly without the virus won’t be able to do it. The only way to make sure that you are no infected is to get tested.

Q: Is there a possibility that a person who was infected and cured can get infected again?

A: Currently there is no definite answer to this question. However, according to Harvard, most people who get cured develop atleast a short term immunity towards a specific strain of the coronavirus. But studies have found that the virus is mutating rapidly and they can get infected with another mutated strain of the coronavirus. Often these mutations change the virus enough to make you susceptible because your immune system thinks it is an infection that it has never seen before.


Also Read:

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Updated Date: Mar 24, 2020 10:54:17 IST