13 myths about COVID-19 debunked by WHO

KATHMANDU: As of April 8, 2020, there have been 1,317,130 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 74,306 deaths, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).

The new coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan of China towards the end of 2019, soon spread across lands and swept the world relentlessly, putting a large chunk of the world's population under lockdown and bringing much panic among the general public.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11 and devoted its resources to battle this disease and search for its cure. So far, no vaccine has been found to fight the virus.

With the propagation of COVID-19 throughout the world in historic speed, myths and misinformation surrounding its detection, prevention and cure started to proliferate around the globe. These myths if followed are potential health hazards waiting to occur, some times capable of killing or sickening people.

Seeing the increasing spread of rumours and misinformation, WHO debunked these myths to help the general public navigate around such hazards and take the right steps for their own safety and that of their family's:

1. Holding your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort means you are free of COVID-19

No, it DOES NOT mean you are free of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or any other lung disease. As per WHO, you cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous. The best way to confirm whether or not you have COVID-19 disease is with a laboratory test.

2. Drinking alcohol can kill coronavirus inside your body

Drinking alcohol doesn't protect against COVID-19 and can be dangerous.

3. Coronavirus cannot transmit in areas with hot and humid climates

From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. WHO says, regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19.

4. Mosquito bite can transmit coronavirus

To date, there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. WHO says, the new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

5. Ultraviolet light can kill coronavirus

WHO says UV lamps should not be used to sterilise hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.

6. Hand dryers can kill COVID-19

No, as per WHO, hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV.

7. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body kill sthe new coronavirus

No. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. According to WHO, spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.

8. Vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus

No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV.

9. Regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection with the new coronavirus

No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from the coronavirus infection. As per WHO, there is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.

10. Eating garlic helps prevent infection with the new coronavirus

Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new virus.

11. Older people are more susceptible to coronavirus

People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart diseases) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

12. There are medicines to prevent or treat coronavirus

To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). As per WHO, some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials.

13. Taking a hot bath prevent coronavirus disease

Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you.

To protect yourself, wash your hands frequently with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand rub. Once your hands are cleaned, dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.