As the world battles with a pandemic it hadn’t known before, there has been a proliferation of information. The dos and don’ts have been listed, but this has also led to an increase in several myths. In the book, The Coronavirus: What you Need to Know about the Global Pandemic, authored by Dr Swapneil Parikh, Maherra Desai and Dr Rajesh Parikh, among other things, these misinformation have been detailed and busted.
Published by Penguin Random House India Private Limited, it is available as an ebook.
Here is an extract.
Only the old are at risk: COVID-19 affects people of all ages. However, the elderly and those with pre-existing chronic medical conditions like heart disease, asthma and diabetes take longer to recover and seem to be at increased risk of severe COVID-19.
Keep your throat moist, avoid spicy food and load up on Vitamin C: This was one food advice shared over 16,000 times on Facebook alone. It got a lot of traction in the Philippines, Canada, India and Pakistan. Although the post claimed to cite information from government health officials, it did not match information posted on their websites.
Avoid cold or preserved food for ninety days: Avoiding ice creams or preserved food has not been scientifically proven to affect one’s chances of contracting the virus. Avoid various foods from China: In Australia, a viral social media post warned citizens against fortune cookies, Wuchang rice, mi goreng noodles, yakult, Chinese Red Bull. This statement was claimed to be issued by the Department of Diseasology Parramatta which in fact does not even exist.
Avoid products shipped or made in China: Although COVID-19 appears to survive on surfaces for a brief time (current estimates range from a few hours to a few days across various surfaces), it is unlikely that one would get infected by products or packages in transit for days or weeks. When in doubt, use disinfectant to clean the surface of the package before opening.
Thermal scanners can detect those infected with COVID-19: Thermal scanners can detect those with a fever, which could be due to the coronavirus or due to other causes. They do not detect those who are infected but asymptomatic (it can take up to fourteen days to develop symptoms after contracting the virus, although symptoms usually surface within five to six days).
Vaccines against pneumonia protect against COVID-19 as well: Vaccines like pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine are not effective for COVID-19. It is a new virus for which a new vaccine needs to be developed. Research is under way. However, one should take all the age- appropriate vaccinations recommended by doctors.
Antibiotics are effective: Antibiotics work against bacteria, not viruses. They are helpful in neither prevention nor treatment of COVID-19. Purchase antibiotics only if recommended by your doctor. A cure is available: Although research is under way, till the time of publication no specific cure for COVID-19 has been discovered. All treatment is targeted towards relief of specific symptoms or secondary complications and not the virus.
Gargling frequently with various liquids: Bleach, steroids, acetic acid, essential oils, oregano oil, saltwater, mouthwash, ethanol and many other solutions have been cited as a preventive and/or curative measure for COVID-19. However, some are dangerous and can cause serious harm.
Rinsing your nose with saline will protect against the virus: This may help recover quicker from a cold. However, it has not been proven effective in preventing respiratory infections, including COVID-19.
Garlic protects against the virus: Adding garlic to meals may make them delicious, and it has antimicrobial properties too. But there is no evidence it protects people from getting infected. Hand dryers and UV lamps are effective in killing coronavirus: Hand dryers by themselves are not effective. After following the hand hygiene process, drying hands using paper towels or a warm-air dryer is preferred. Avoid sharing hand towels made of cloth with others. Furthermore, radiation from UV lamps can cause skin irritation.
Spraying alcohol and chlorine or applying sesame oil all over your body can effectively kill the virus: Although alcohol and chlorine are effective disinfectants on surfaces, these can be harmful to clothes and skin, especially eyes and mouth. Sesame oil doesn’t help either.
Pets at home could spread the virus: There is no evidence that dogs or cats can get infected with the virus. Only one case in Hong Kong has been identified where a pet dog tested weakly positive for coronavirus and was put in isolation for observation. The pet dog is suspected to have got the infection from its owner. No other cases have been reported elsewhere. It is always a good idea to maintain hand hygiene after contact with pets to protect oneself from bacteria and other viruses that could be transmitted by pets.
A change in weather will ward off the virus: There is no evidence to suggest that the virus will disappear with a change in weather, either summer or winter. With cases reported in hot and cold seasons across the globe, the virus has thrived in the human body (which typically maintains a temperature of roughly 37°C) despite the temperature outside.
Hot baths will protect you against the virus: A hot bath will help you de-stress and unwind, but unfortunately won’t protect you against getting infected.
Mosquito bites transmit the virus: No reported cases or evidence has been found to support this claim.
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