The unbelievably fast spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 has engendered an almost-as-fast rumour mill of myths around how to protect yourself and how to tell if you have been infected. With the deep penetration of social media in all homes and devices, it’s easy to fall prey to incorrect information. In this article, Avaana breaks down the myths around COVID-19.
The myths around the mask
As soon as news of COVID-19 began to spread, the demand for masks began to rise. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person suspected or confirmed to have the infection or if you are coughing or sneezing.
There is a worldwide shortage of masks, as well as other protective equipment, and if you are hoarding masks, you are depriving people such as healthcare professionals who really need it.
If you are using a mask, you should follow the correct procedure to put it on, take it off, and dispose of it. Check out the WHO recommendations on the correct usage of a mask here.
The myths around the cure to coronavirus
There is currently no cure for COVID-19. People who are infected with it will be hospitalized, isolated and will receive treatment for the symptoms. Most people will recover, unless the condition is complicated by other health conditions.
The myths about contracting the virus from animals, pets, or mosquito bites
You cannot be infected by COVID-19 through mosquito bites, but you may develop other illnesses. It’s best to protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times.
There has been one reported case of a dog in Hong Kong being infected by the novel coronavirus, but there is no evidence of cats or dogs being able to transmit the virus.
The myths about only older people being vulnerable to COVID-19
One of the biggest myths around COVID-19 is that only older people can be infected. This has led to younger people exposing themselves to the virus and being infected.
People of all ages, including children, may be infected by this new virus. People with pre-existing medical conditions, especially those with heart and lung conditions or diabetes are more vulnerable to developing severe and even fatal complications from COVID-19.
The myths about vaccines and medicines that protect you from COVID-19
There is no vaccine that has been found effective in the prevention of the spread of COVID-19. Efforts are currently on to develop a vaccine but because the novel coronavirus is so new, this may take time.
There are also no antibiotics which will prevent infection from COVID-19. Antibiotics do not work against any virus, and are only effective against bacteria. If you have been detected with the novel coronavirus, you will be treated with antibiotics against bacterial co-infection.
The myths around COVID-19 being treatable by home remedies
There is no home remedy to prevent infection with COVID-19. There are numerous suggestions recommending eating garlic, rinsing your nose with saline spray, spraying alcohol over your body and surroundings, taking extremely hot showers, etc – but none of these have been found to be effective.
The myth that thermal scanners are enough to protect you
Thermal scanners are effective in detecting those with higher than normal body temperatures. However, if someone is carrying or has been infected by the virus but has not yet developed fever, the thermal scanner will not detect it.
The myth around COVID-19 and the weather
Early rumours about the rising summer temperatures being a deterrent to the spread of the coronavirus have proven untrue. COVID-19 can be transmitted in any weather, cold or hot, and you may be at risk even in peak summer temperatures. The reverse is also true. Cold weather and snow are not deterrents to the spread of COVID-19.
How to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19
To understand how to protect yourself from COVID-19, you should know how it spreads.
The novel coronavirus is spread through microscopic droplets that are exhaled from the nose or mouth of an infected person. If these droplets land on a surface or person and are picked up by your hands and conveyed to your nose, eyes, or mouth, you may develop the virus.
The only known way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect yourself from infection is to ensure that you do not pick up those droplets, or if you do, that you do not transfer them to yourself.
Read our post on FAQs about COVID-19 to know more about novel coronavirus.
Here’s how you can stay safe:
Wash your hands as often as you can with soap and water to remove any virus that you may have picked up. If you do not have access to soap and water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers generously.
Stay at least 1 metre or 3 feet away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing, to prevent these droplets landing on your clothes, belongings, or on your body.
Avoid touching your mouth, nose, face, eyes unless you have just cleaned your hands.
If you have to sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a bent elbow or with a tissue. Dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Social distancing – how to do it
If you can afford it, stay home. Social distancing is a way to remain away from infection and prevent becoming a carrier of the virus. Many countries, Australia included, have banned social gatherings. Some countries have even shut down movie theatres, shopping malls, schools, office buildings, and other places where people congregate.
Here’s how to practice social distancing:
Order your groceries and essentials online if possible
Reduce all non-essential meetings and outings, and avoid letting people (apart from household members) into the house. This includes extended family.
If you have to go out during social distancing, follow these best practices:
Use alcohol hand-sanitizer as much as possible
When out, stay at least 3 feet away from people who are sneezing or coughing
If you have to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth in the crook of your elbow
Be aware of what your hands are touching, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently
When you get home, wash your hands with soap and water
If you live with roommates, family members or your partner, make sure to regularly disinfect surfaces like doorknobs and tables that are frequently handled.
Make sure you are keeping living spaces well-ventilated and clean.
Explain the situation to all members of the household, and agree on the measures you will all follow at home. Do not assume that the information about COVID-19 is common knowledge.
Social distancing can be difficult and frightening. Read our post on how to stay sane during social distancing.
Self-quarantine – how and when to do it
If you have COVID-19, have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, have recently travelled to places with COVID-19 cases, or have recently developed flu-like symptoms, you should self-isolate or self-quarantine.
Self-isolation should last for 14 days. You must stay at home during this time, and avoid meeting even family members, especially older relatives.
This is how to self-isolate:
Do not go into public places or meet people, including dropping children off at school, going to work, meeting friends, or letting visitors in.
Stay in touch with loved ones or colleagues through phone calls or video chat.
Ask someone to bring you necessities and leave them at your front door.
Do not interact with delivery staff, courier employees, or retail outlet workers.
If you need to get medical help, contact your local authorities. Wear a mask when meeting your healthcare professionals, and continue to use alcohol hand-rubs.