Overview of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Infection
The novel coronavirus, officially known as the COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 infection, originated in Wuhan, China, and has now spread to every continent on this planet, except Antarctica. The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared a public health emergency and declared the situation to be a pandemic on March 11, 2020.(1)
To date, the virus has been responsible for over 385,300 infections worldwide, and it has already caused over 16,000 deaths.(2)
As the virus wreaked havoc in country after country, people started becoming fearful. The massive amount of misinformation and rumors being circulated on social media has also increased people’s fears. Here are some of the common myths associated with this infection that we try to dissect.
Myth 1: Rubbing Chlorine Or Alcohol On Your Skin Will Kill The CoronaVirus
Spraying or applying alcohol and chlorine on your skin can just cause more harm, especially if either of them enters your eyes or the mouth.
While it is okay to use these chemicals for disinfecting surfaces, but they should not be used on the skin.(3)
These products will not be able to kill any type of virus present within the body.
Myth 2: Only Older Adults Are At Risk of Getting Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
COVID-19, just like other coronaviruses, can end up infecting a person of any age. However, it is true that older adults or people who have pre-existing health conditions such as asthma or diabetes are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill if infected by the virus.
Myth 3: There Is A Vaccine To Cure COVID-19
As on September 2020, there are many false news on various social media platforms that claim that there is a vaccine available for COVID-19 already. However, the fact is that there is no vaccine available for this new coronavirus infection right now. Although, Russia has claimed to have developed a vaccine for Covid-19 but not much is known about its effectiveness and risks. While scientists are already working on one, but developing a safe and effective vaccine takes many months. This is why prevention is your best bet right now.
Myth 4: Children Are Safe From COVID-19
As mentioned above, the virus can infect anyone regardless of their age. While the majority of cases till now have been in adults, but children are also equally susceptible to getting infected.(4) In fact, preliminary evidence from the studies carried out in China has found that children are also just as likely to get infected, but the symptoms in children tend to be less severe as compared to adults.(5)
Myth 5: COVID-19 Is Just Another Form Of The Flu
While COVID-19 does produce symptoms that are very much like the flu, including fever, cough, and body ache, but the COVID-19 infection is more severe than the flu.
It is also true that both the flu and COVID-19 can either be mild or severe and, in some cases, even fatal. Both of these illnesses can also cause pneumonia.
However, COVID-19 has a higher mortality rate. As of now, it is estimated that the mortality rate of COVID-19 is between one to three percent.(6)
Even though work is presently ongoing about determining the exact mortality rate of COVID-19, but scientists believe that it is going to be many times higher than the mortality rate of the seasonal flu.(7)
Myth 6: Whoever Gets Infected With COVID-19 Will Die
This is not true. COVID-19 is proving to be fatal only for a small percentage of the population. In fact, according to a recent report by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 81 percent of all COVID-19 cases were actually mild.(8)
As per the World Health Organization also, around 80 percent of people who have gotten infected will only experience a relatively mild form of the disease.(9) This will also not require any kind of specialist admission to a hospital for treatment.
Myth 7: Buying Products Shipped From China Will Make You Sick
This is also only a myth that has been going around on social media. Researchers who are studying the new COVID-19 infection are learning more and more each day about how it transmits to people. Scientists believe that most viruses such as this coronavirus are not able to live for very long on surfaces. This is why it is highly unlikely that you will contract COVID-19 from a product that was shipped from China and has been in transit for several days or weeks.
The infection is more likely to be contracted from droplets of an infected person’s cough or sneeze.
Myth 8: Wearing A Face Mask Can Protect You Against COVID-19
Disposable face masks are unlikely to keep you safe from COVID-19 infection. Images of healthcare workers wearing face masks have been flashing on every television set and computer screen in the last few days. However, healthcare workers wear a high-quality professional face mask, which fits tightly around the face to protect them against infection.
The disposable masks commonly available in the markets do not fit tightly against the face, allowing droplets to enter the nose and mouth. Also, tiny particles of the virus can also enter directly through the actual material of the mask.
However, if you are suffering from a respiratory illness, then wearing a mask can help protect others from catching the infection.
Nevertheless, the World Health Organization has recommended that people caring for someone with suspected COVID-19 infection should wear a face mask. In such cases, wearing a face mask will only be effective if the person is also washing their hands regularly with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub.(10)
Myth 9: Pets Can Spread Coronavirus
At present, there is very little evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can infect cats and dogs. However, there has been a case in Hong Kong, where a dog caught the COVID-19 infection from its owner. However, the dog did not show any of the symptoms.
Scientists are still debating whether or not this particular case is of importance to the COVID-19 epidemic. However, there is still very little known about the virus and the manner in which it infects people and animals.
Myth 10: Antibiotics Can Kill The Coronavirus
The most important fact to keep in mind here is that antibiotics do not kill viruses. Antibiotics are only effective in killing bacteria.
By following certain simple tips and maintaining personal hygiene and social distancing, it is possible to reduce the spread of the COVID-19. Some simple measures you should be following include:
- Stay at home if you are sick
- Avoid coming into close contact with people who appear to be symptomatic
- Do not touch your nose, eyes, or mouth if you are outside of the house
- Wash your hands immediately after entering your home
- Wash your hands with soap frequently for at least 20 seconds
- Sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and then throw the tissue into the trash can
- Use standard cleaning wipes and sprays to disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
It is recommended that unless necessary, do not step outside, especially if your country is in lockdown. Follow the safety precautions put in place by the government and take your own precautions. These simple tips can prove effective during a pandemic, such as the COVID-19 infection.
- Who.int. 2020. WHO Director-General’s Opening Remarks At The Media Briefing On COVID-19 – 11 March 2020. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19—11-march-2020> [Accessed 24 March 2020].
- Arcgis.com. 2020. Operations Dashboard For Arcgis. [online] Available at: <https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6> [Accessed 24 March 2020].
- Paulson, D.S., Fendler, E.J., Dolan, M.J. and Williams, R.A., 1999. A close look at alcohol gel as an antimicrobial sanitizing agent. American journal of infection control, 27(4), pp.332-338.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fchildren-faq.html> [Accessed 24 March 2020].
- Bi, Q., Wu, Y., Mei, S., Ye, C., Zou, X., Zhang, Z., Liu, X., Wei, L., Truelove, S.A., Zhang, T. and Gao, W., 2020. Epidemiology and Transmission of COVID-19 in Shenzhen China: Analysis of 391 cases and 1,286 of their close contacts. medRxiv.
- Tian, S., Hu, N., Lou, J., Chen, K., Kang, X., Xiang, Z., Chen, H., Wang, D., Liu, N., Liu, D. and Chen, G., 2020. Characteristics of COVID-19 infection in Beijing. Journal of Infection.
- Sohrabi, C., Alsafi, Z., O’Neill, N., Khan, M., Kerwan, A., Al-Jabir, A., Iosifidis, C. and Agha, R., 2020. World Health Organization declares global emergency: A review of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). International Journal of Surgery.
- Team, T., 2020. The Epidemiological Characteristics Of An Outbreak Of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Diseases (COVID-19) — China, 2020. [online] Weekly.chinacdc.cn. Available at: <http://weekly.chinacdc.cn/en/article/id/e53946e2-c6c4-41e9-9a9b-fea8db1a8f51> [Accessed 24 March 2020].
- Who.int. 2020. Q&A On Coronaviruses (COVID-19). [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses> [Accessed 24 March 2020].
- Who.int. 2020. When And How To Use Masks. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks> [Accessed 24 March 2020].
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