Myths vs. facts about coronavirus

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 WHO writes.

The WHO reports that there are currently more than 169 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under development, with 26 of these in the human trial phase.

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.

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.

Did coronavirus originate from bats?

This is one possibility, but the origin of the virus has not yet been established, the WHO says. Genetic testing has not yet confirmed the animal origin of COVID-19, although bats and pangolins have been identified as suspects.

Scientists are also still working to map the origin of COVID-19 and identify a ‘patient zero’. While the first COVID-19 case was initially confirmed in Wuhan, China, in early December 2019, the first cases may have come sooner than that. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported that government data now traces the first case in China back to 17 Nov. There is still a lot of research to be done to fully understand the source of coronavirus.

Have anti-malarial drugs been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19?

While US President Donald Trump stated that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine had been FDA approved and would immediately become available, the FDA clarified, “There are no FDA-approved therapeutics or drugs to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19.”

Despite initial studies on hydroxychloroquine appearing promising, a recent large-scale trial – The Recovery Trial, run by Oxford University – has shown it is ineffective. The WHO has also halted its trials on the drug stating it does not reduce death rates in coronavirus patients.

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through mosquito bites?

According to the WHO, to date there has been no evidence that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted by mosquitoes. It can also not be transmitted through houseflies.

This article is a combination of stories by Kayla Young, previously published in the Cayman Compass.

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