8 Coronavirus Myths You Need To Stop Believing

The current spread of the coronavirus disease is of great concern to many people. There have been more than 1,300,000 cases worldwide and more than 74,000 deaths. Some governments have even decided to shut down many activities in districts and cities.

There’s so much misinformation about the coronavirus that sometimes it might be hard to know what to believe.

In this article, we’ll be separating facts from fiction. We’ll be discussing popular coronavirus myths you should ignore and explain what is true instead.

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Myth 1: It Originated From a Bio-Weapons Lab

When a disease spreads as fast and as global as the current coronavirus has done, it’s not surprising for people to come up with many theories about its source. There is a popular theory that the disease was a leak from a bioweapons laboratory in Wuhan, China.

This is not very likely. The disease is similar to the previous SARS and MERS outbreak that caused many fatalities in Asia and the Middle East respectively. It’s believed to have originated from bats and spread to humans due to human-animal contact.

Since the initial outbreak, the disease is now transmissible from person to person and is present in many communities.

Myth 2: It’s The Same Thing As The Flu

The symptoms of the COVID-19 is similar to that of the flu, however, both diseases are different. The flu is more widespread and seasonal, while this is the first time the world is experiencing COVID-19.

The new coronavirus disease is also many times more deadly than the flu, the former has a death rate of 3.4% while the latter has a death rate of less than 1%.

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Myth 3: Most People Who Get COVID-19 Become Seriously Ill

One myth that frightens most people is that COVID-19 causes serious illness in most people. This is far from the truth. While everyone is advised to be cautious, there’s no need for panic.

Most people who get the virus have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, and about 1 in 6 people become seriously ill.

The symptoms include dry cough, fever, tiredness, runny nose, and a sore throat. Most of the serious cases and fatalities occur in old people or those with underlying medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes and heart problems. This is why extra care has to be taken if you fall into the more susceptible category of people.

Myth 4: The Virus is Air-Borne

The statement that the virus travels primarily through the air is not true. This is perhaps what has fueled the panic-buying of face masks.

The virus primarily spreads by droplets. If an infected person sneezes or coughs, respiratory droplets can land on surfaces in the person’s immediate environment. If people inhale these droplets or touch their eyes, nose or mouth after touching a contaminated surface, they can get infected.

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Myth 5: You Can Get Coronavirus From a Parcel From China

This is another false statement that is fueled by the fact that the virus was first discovered in China. Even though the virus can survive on a surface for a few hours to a few days, it is unlikely to survive the different environmental conditions and temperatures during its delivery.

There’s been no reported case that had this method of transmission. However, if you’re very worried, you can disinfect surfaces with a disinfectant and wash your hands thereafter with soap and water.

Myth 6: Using a Surgical Face Mask Can Protect You From The Virus

Surgical face masks aren’t designed to stop viral particles, so, wearing them doesn’t guarantee safety from the coronavirus. In fact, it can lead to a ‘false sense of security’ and make you ignore the most important preventive tips which are to avoid close contact with ill people, wash or sanitize your hands frequently and to avoid touching your face, especially in public.

Face masks can, however, prevent infected people from spreading the virus, so it is mandatory for anyone with respiratory symptoms like a cough or runny nose to wear face masks.

The other set of people who require face masks are healthcare workers and people who are caring for ill people. The recommended face masks for this category of people is not the surgical mask but N95 respirators, a type of face mask that can keep out viral particles.

Myth 7: Using a Hand Sanitizer Is Better Than Hand Washing

An alcohol-based hand sanitizer helps to disinfect the hands and prevents the coronavirus disease but isn’t effective if your hands are visibly dirty.

Hand sanitizers are useful when you’re on the go but when you have access to running water, you should still wash your hands. Hand washing should last at least 20 seconds and should be thorough.

Myth 8: Antibiotics or Other Supplements Can Treat The Virus

At the moment, the coronavirus disease does not have any specific treatment. What doctors give is supportive treatment, taking care of symptoms until the person’s immune system beats the virus.

Antibiotics do not work for this virus, they are only used to treat bacterial infections. There is also no other approved specific antiviral agent or vaccine that can prevent the disease. The best way curtail the virus’ spread is to follow these precautions:

  • Avoid close contact (less than a meter) with people who are sick, coughing or sneezing
  • Wash your hands often using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth
  • Make sure people around you use a disposable tissue to cover their nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell and call your local clinic before heading out.
Latest posts by Mahmoud Mokhtar, MBBS, MRCP (UK) (see all)
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