Myths vs. facts about coronavirus

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There are many rumours circulating about coronavirus. Here we address a few of them.

Can the coronavirus survive in hot and humid climates?

Yes. The spread of the disease across the Caribbean has already disputed a common myth that COVID-19 cannot survive in hot temperatures. 

“From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather,” the World Health Organization writes. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to, an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.”

Likewise, COVID-19 cannot be prevented by taking a hot bath, ultraviolet lamps, or using hand dryers. 

Can COVID-19 be killed by spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body?

No. This will not kill viruses that have already entered the body. Such measures could also be harmful to mucous membranes around the eyes or mouth. While these substances are helpful in cleaning surfaces, they can be damaging to human health when used inappropriately. Adhere to all warning labels on household cleaning items.

Is a vaccine for the coronavirus available?

No. While scientists have begun working on one, there is currently no vaccine on the market. 

Similarly, vaccines that protect against influenza or pneumonia do not prevent coronavirus. They are still advisable, however, to reduce illness and the pressure on medical infrastructure. 

Viral posts that claim labs in the US, Israel and elsewhere already have a cure for coronavirus are incorrect. Vaccine development is a rigorous process that requires time and testing.

“The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts,” the World Health Organization writes. 

Does COVID-19 only affect older people?

No. While older people and individuals with certain medical conditions are at risk of suffering more severe symptoms, coronavirus can affect people of all ages. Those who believe they are young and healthy should still practise safety measures, such as frequent handwashing and social distancing, to avoid infection or inadvertently infecting others.

Can antibiotics treat coronavirus?

No. Antibiotics only treat bacteria, not viruses. 

“However, if you are hospitalised for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible,” WHO states.

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Can you treat or cure COVID-19 with garlic, essential oils, ethanol, gargling salt water or bleach, or taking acetic acid, steroids or other substances?

These myths are not only untrue but several, like gargling bleach, are dangerous. There are no miracle cures for COVID-19. Never attempt a medical cure that is not recommended by a doctor. Be sceptical of all recipes, tonics or potions that promise to cure COVID-19. At best, these suggestions are ill-advised. At worst, they are attempts to take advantage of the scared and vulnerable.

In addition to safety measures recommended by public health officials, eat a balanced diet, manage stress, practise good hygiene and avoid tobacco to improve your health at this time.

Will a face mask protect me from COVID-19?

Face masks are best left for medical professionals and individuals who are already ill or at high risk.

“For the general public without respiratory illness, wearing lightweight disposable surgical masks is not recommended. Because they don’t fit tightly, they may allow tiny infected droplets to get into the nose, mouth or eyes. Also, people with the virus on their hands who touch their face under a mask might become infected,” writes John Hopkins Medicine.

“People with a respiratory illness can wear these masks to lessen their chance of infecting others. Bear in mind that stocking up on masks makes fewer available for sick patients and health care workers who need them.”

This is the first in an ongoing series the Cayman Compass will be running on debunking some of the myths surrounding COVID-19. Want us to check out a rumour or myth about the illness? Email us at [email protected]

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