The new coronavirus (COVID-19) has become one of the most challenging public health issues in a long time. And with highly infectious diseases like this, come a lot of speculation and advice – mostly from people who don’t know any better. Some aren’t particularly alarming but others are quite outrageous and harmful.
In an effort to get the facts straight, we're going to bust these common coronavirus myths that have taken over our social media platforms.
Myth 1: Drinking water or gargling with warm water & salt or vinegar will flush the virus from your mouth.
Truth: It's always smart to stay hydrated but there's no evidence that drinking water or gargling with salt water or vinegar can protect you from getting the coronavirus.
Myth 2: Avoid ibuprofen if you're infected with the coronavirus because it could worsen it.
Truth: This myth came from Olivier Véran, the health minister of France but the European Medicines Agency & NHS in the United Kingdom say there isn't any scientific evidence backing this statement.
Myth 3: Warm weather will get rid of the coronavirus
Truth: Donald Trump pushed this theory but according to the @WHO, the coronavirus can be transmitted in all areas of the globe, including hot climates like we have in Nigeria.
We do not yet know if COVID-19 is a seasonal virus like influenza is, meaning it loses the ability to infect cells as the temperature rises.
Myth 4: Using a face mask will protect you from getting the coronavirus.
Truth: Surgical masks are specifically designed to prevent fluids from someone else's cough or sneeze getting into your airways and vice versa.
N95 respirator masks can block airborne viruses from getting into your mouth or trap viruses from your body to prevent them from spreading into the air but you shouldn't use one unless you think you've been infected by or are showing symptoms of the coronavirus.
This said, masks are crucial for health workers looking after patients and are also recommended for family members who need to care for someone who is ill – ideally both the patient and carer should have a mask.
However, masks will probably make little difference if you’re just walking around town or taking a bus so there is no need to bulk-buy a huge supply.
Myth 5: Garlic or herbs will cure or protect you from the coronavirus.
Truth: #COVID19 is not a vampire. While garlic is good for your immune system, it can't protect you from being infected with the coronavirus, according to the WHO. The same goes for herbal tea.
Myth 6: It only kills the elderly, so younger people can relax.
Truth: Most people who are not elderly and do not have underlying health conditions will not become critically ill from Covid-19. But the illness still has a higher chance of leading to serious respiratory symptoms.
It’s important for people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.
Myth 7: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body kill the new coronavirus?
Truth: No. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to 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.
We believe this covers the most common myths we see flying around. Should you think we've missed one out, please feel free to let us know.