The Edition


15 hoaxes about the Coronavirus disease: WHO

Ahmed Aiham
12 March 2020, MVT 20:02
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday. Organizations and governments have condemned the rampant spread of fake news and urged individuals to rely oninformation from health institutions. GRAPHICS: RAE MUNAVVAR / THE EDITION
Ahmed Aiham
12 March 2020, MVT 20:02

As the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) continues to spread throughout the world, governmental organizations, health organizations and medical professionals are scrambling to fight mistruths.

COVID-19 is a respiratory infection that was initially reported from the city of Wuhan in the Hubei Province of Central China on December 31, 2019. The virus has since infected 125,865 people and killed 4,615. However, it is worth noting that roughly 60 percent of infected have recovered from the disease.

Declared a pandemic as recently as this Wednesday by the World Health Organization (WHO), from the start of the outbreak, governments and other relevant authorities rallied in an effort to curb the detrimental effects of misinformation and dispelling a variety of myths associated with the virus.

This in mind, WHO has released a list of common myths associated with the virus. It is crucial that all of us educate ourselves,

HOAX # 1 - It is impossible for COVID-19 to be transmitted in hot and humid climates

Photograph of a beach in the greater Male' region. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES

Although experts believe hot and humid climates can effectively slow the spread of the virus, it is still possible for the virus to be transmitted.

In an interview with AccuWeather, a pathology professor at the University of Hong Kong said "sunlight will cut the virus's ability to grow in half, so the half-life will be 2.5 minutes, and in the dark, it's about 13 to 20 [minutes]. Sunlight is really good at killing viruses".

HOAX #2 - Cold weather can kill the novel Coronavirus

Cozy wooden hut high in the snowy mountains. Great pine trees on the background. Abandoned kolyba shepherd. Cloudy day. Carpathian mountains, Ukraine, Europe. PHOTO: EDITION

WHO maintains that there is "no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus.

HOAX #3 - Taking a hot bath will prevent the disease

While regular bathing is absolutely necessary for one's hygiene, the temperature of the bath has little to no effect. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES

Regardless of the water temperature, an individual's body temperature remains near 37 degrees celsius - This does not deter the virus.

HOAX #4 - The virus can be transmitted through goods manufactured in any country reporting COVID-19 cases

This photo taken on November 21, 2019 shows containers at the foreign trade container terminal in Qingdao, in China's eastern Shandong province. PHOTO: STR / AFP

"Even though the new coronavirus can stay on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (depending on the type of surface), it is very unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after being moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures", noted the organization.

HOAX #5 - The new coronavirus can be transmitted through mosquito bites

Aedes mosquito, the main vector that transmits viruses that cause dengue is however, not a career of the novel coronoa virus. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILE

There is no evidence that suggests COVID-19 could be spread through mosquitoes. The primary source of transmission is through droplets generated when infected individuals cough sneeze or via drops of saliva.

HOAX #6 - Hand-dryers are effective in killing COVID-19

Hand dryer installed in a public restroom. IMAGE: STOCK PHOTOS

Hand dryers are ineffective against the virus and only blow warm air.

Experts also note that hand dryers can further the spread of a disease by dispelling potential microorganisms into the environment. Coupled with poor hand hygiene practices, hand dryers becomes largely problematic and inefficient in killing COVID-19.

HOAX #7 - Ultraviolet (UV) light can kill the virus

Hand placed in UV Lamp, often utilised for manicures and pedicures. IMAGE: STOCK PHOTOS

"UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation", said WHO.

HOAX #8 - Thermal scanners are effective in detecting infected people

A thermal scanner is installed at a shopping mall in Bangkok on January 29, 2020. PHOTO: ANTONOV / AFP

Thermal scanners are only effective in detecting a higher than normal body temperature. Scanners are unable to detect people who are infected and unsymptomatic.

"It takes between two and 10 days before people begin who are infected become sick and develop a fever".

HOAX #9 - Spraying alcohol or chlorine over you will kill the virus

Spraying alcohol needlessly can cause far more irritation to those doing so and around them, than offering help. PHOTO: MIHAARU

"Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes", said WHO, iterating that alcohol nor chlorine can kill viruses that have already entered the body.

HOAX #10 - Pets can spread the virus

Cats are a favored pet in Maldives. PHOTO: MIHAARU

Scientists have found no evidence that companion animals can become infected with the Coronavirus Disease.

"However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets", urged WHO.

HOAX #11 - Vaccines against pneumonia can prevent COVID-19

Nurse administers vaccine to patient. PHOTO: MIHAARU

According to WHO, the virus is unique to the point that it requires its own vaccine, making current vaccines against pneumonia ineffective.

"Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health".

HOAX #12 - Regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection

Girl suffering from cold using nasal spray. IMAGE: STOCK PHOTOS

"There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus", claimed WHO.

Limited evidence indicates that regular rinsing with saline solutions can help people recover faster from common colds. However, it does not deter respiratory infections.

HOAX #13 - Eating garlic will ward off the infection

Consuming garlic, while great for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, is not a definite preventive measure against any viral or bacterial disease. PHOTO: MIHAARU

Although garlic is considered a healthy food with antimicrobial properties, there is no evidence to back the claims that eating garlic has protected people from contracting the virus.

HOAX #14 - Younger people are less susceptible to be infected

A young boy wears a mask to protect against air pollution. PHOTO: ADEK BERRY / AFP

"People of all ages can be infected", stressed the health organization.

"Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus".

HOAX #15 - There are medicines effective in preventing and treating COVID-19

Doctor Paul McKay is working on a vaccine for the 2019-nCoV strain of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19 at Imperial College School of Medicine (ICSM) in London on February 10, 2020. PHOTO: AKMEN / AFP

To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the virus.

As COVID-19 is a virus, "antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment", said WHO.

Some specific treatments are under investigation and will be tested through clinical trials.

"Of the 118,000 cases reported globally in 114 countries, more than 90 percent of cases are in just four countries, and two of those – China and the Republic of Korea - have significantly declining epidemics", noted WHO's Director General Tedros Adhanom.

"We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic".