Seven coronavirus myths debunked

24 March 2020 - 06:54 By Cebelihle Bhengu
The World Health Organisation says the near-constant stream of news about coronavirus can cause worry. It suggests people get factual information from trusted sources at set times once or twice a day.
The World Health Organisation says the near-constant stream of news about coronavirus can cause worry. It suggests people get factual information from trusted sources at set times once or twice a day.
Image: Supplied

Pressure is mounting on governments to contain coronavirus and punish those who spread false information about it.

Co-operative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma last week introduced Disaster Management Act regulations. They allow the government to impose a fine or jail sentence on those who share misinformation about Covid-19.

Here are seven myths about the coronavirus, as well as facts verified by the WHO and Unicef:

Myth 1: Wearing a mask offers protection from the coronavirus

Fact: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has cautioned that face masks should only be worn by health-care professionals or individuals taking care of patients diagnosed with Covid-19. This ensures the protection of a health-care provider by preventing the spread of the virus should the patient sneeze or cough.

Myth 2: Covid-19 can be transmitted through blood 

Fact: Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, which means it can only be spread if the sick person releases droplets of saliva when they sneeze or cough. It is not found in blood. Unicef says Covid-19 can also be transmitted if a person touches their face without washing their hands after touching contaminated objects.

Myth 3: Certain temperatures kill the coronavirus

Fact: The WHO has debunked misinformation that the coronavirus thrives in cold weather conditions and dies when it is hot. It warned against taking extremely hot showers to “kill” the virus as this can only cause further harm. It says the normal human body temperature stays between 36 and 37°C, regardless of external factors such as the weather or taking extremely hot baths or showers.

Myth 4: Drinking, spraying clothes with alcohol kills the virus

Fact: The WHO and Unicef recommend regular handwashing and sanitising using an alcohol-based sanitiser or gel to kill the virus. A 20-second handwash using soap and water is also recommended.

Myth 5: The coronavirus only affects older people

Fact: Everyone can be affected by the coronavirus. Unicef says people with compromised immune systems due to chronic illnesses like diabetes, TB and HIV are more susceptible to the disease.

Myth 6: There is a vaccine or cure for coronavirus

Fact: Experts have not developed a cure or vaccine for the new coronavirus. Information that vaccines for pneumonia can cure the virus are, according to the WHO, not true.

Myth 7: The coronavirus is the same as flu

Fact: Many have dismissed the deadly coronavirus as flu. Not so, says Unicef. The coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, and influenza are caused by different viruses. An influenza vaccine has no effect on the coronavirus.


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