Misconceptions About COVID-19 That You Might Not Know
The number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in the Philippines keeps rising. As the virus continues to spread, though, so does the false information about it. Ultimately, this causes undue worry among the public. In a way, it’s worse than the outbreak itself.
You have probably been gripped with anxiety in the recent months that it left you with the urge to go on a panic buying spree. It also perhaps made you neglect simple exercises as you fear to go outside. While there are a lot of things not known yet about coronavirus, one thing’s for sure: the best course of action doesn't come from a place of fear. Instead, the most effective weapon against the coronavirus scare is right and accurate information.
With that, here’s a rundown of the popular myths you should stop believing:
Myth: The novel coronavirus is human-made.
Truth: It came from animals, particularly bats.
There’s a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding the new coronavirus. The most popular is that it’s a biological weapon concocted in Chinese laboratories. In some respects, it has raised safety concerns. But mostly, it has increased racism and hatred, not just for Chinese, but for Asians in general.
This is but a big piece of misinformation spreading online about the coronavirus’ origin. There’s no evidence that the labs are engaged in bioweapons research. Moreover, experts believe that bats are the source of the coronavirus.
As studies show, the microbes in these animals have displayed an almost perfect match in terms of genetic material with the virus triggering COVID-19. Doctors believe that the outbreak started in a live animal market in Wuhan, China, the ground zero of the epidemic.
If you’ve ever been to China recently or any infected countries abroad, it’s essential to monitor your health for at least two weeks, taking note of coronavirus symptoms. This includes fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and difficulty in breathing.
Myth: The novel coronavirus could spread through flies.
Truth: There’s simply no scientific evidence backing this claim.
This myth made the headlines after some residents in Capas, Tarlac, feared for their health and safety when Filipino repatriates from Wuhan were quarantined at the Athlete’s Village in New Clark City. But the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) shushed these worries, saying that there’s no evidence that flies or any insect, for that matter, can be carriers of the virus.
What we know so far is that the disease-causing microbes can be passed on through tiny droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is why the Department of Health (DOH) recommends regular hand washing and social distancing, as well as disinfecting places at home. Thus, this might be the perfect time to finally organize your condo maintenance checklist, making sure that the surroundings are clean.
Myth: You can get the virus through packages from overseas.
Truth: The risk of this kind of transmission is low.
Yes, coronavirus can stay on surfaces, as they’re discharged from an infected person through sneezing and coughing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, there’s a low chance that you can get it from receiving a package from China or any other place abroad, for that matter, as these are shipped over days or weeks.
So if you’re wondering if you can open that new make-up set you ordered a few months ago online, go ahead. There’s no harm in it.
Myth: The novel coronavirus can be treated by drinking bleach.
Truth: This can only do more harm than good.
Perhaps in a desperate move to kill coronavirus, a lot of people think that bleach can help treat the disease. This substance will only put your health all the more at risk. As the chemical stays in your stomach, your internal organs would sustain severe burns, which sometimes could lead to death.
The simple fact is that there’s no antiviral medication available yet for COVID-19. The coronavirus treatments are geared towards easing symptoms, so the doctor will only prescribe pain relievers, cough syrup, plenty of rest, and lots of fluid when you test positive for the disease. As the World Health Organization puts it in this Q&A on coronaviruses, there is no evidence that current medicines can serve as a coronavirus cure.
Meanwhile, bleach should be used for its sole purpose: disinfecting surfaces. Use it to wipe clean the areas at home that are often touched, like doorknobs, tables, stairway handles, among many others. Set your own condo cleaning calendar to keep your home sanitized.
Myth: You’ll likely die when you get COVID-19.
Truth: Most people who contract the disease recover.
When you’re facing a pandemic, it’s easy to be fixated on the negative news. The number of cases of coronavirus, latest news says, is at 13.9 million around the world. In the Philippines, out of the 61,000 cases, there are 1,600 who died and more than 21,000 who recovered. Despite these death tolls and the absence of a coronavirus cure, it’s possible to recuperate from COVID-19.
According to a study exploring the epidemiological characteristics of the outbreak, 80 percent of coronavirus patients have mild symptoms only. Moreover, there have been documented survivors. Elizabeth Schneider is one. A woman living in Washington, USA, recovered from the virus and was able to return to her daily routines after a few weeks of being ill. She had only one message to the people: don’t panic. The better thing to do is to monitor symptoms and get tested to battle the disease.
Here, in the Philippines, the first novel coronavirus patient was able to recover herself as well. Take note; this woman is from Wuhan. When you see symptoms, instead of getting into panic mode, keep an eye on your health for two weeks, and consult your doctor when it gets severe.
Myth: Taking a hot bath will help stop COVID-19.
Truth: This has nothing to do with disease prevention.
Some people believe that a hot bath can prevent infection. Heat can kill the microbes, just as when you boil water for safe drinking. There’s simply no evidence supporting this claim. Also, it’s worth taking note that when you soak in extremely hot water yourself, it can put your health and safety at risk, as it can burn you.
In an incident that happened in Cebu City, 2.5 million worth of “tuob” or steam inhalation kits were distributed to COVID-19 patients in isolation centers. The local government denied the said distribution. Although there was no reported harm on the patients, Philippine Medical Association denounced the practice of tuob, saying it does not help kill viruses, including COVID-19.
If you want to prevent catching coronavirus follow the DOH’s guidelines to the public: wash your hands regularly, eat healthy food, and avoid crowded places. If ever there is a need to go out, wear a mask, and maintain social distancing. It’s also important to follow protocols in your municipality, such as community quarantine.
Myth: Drinking water frequently can prevent COVID-19.
Truth: Again, there’s no scientific evidence behind this.
This claim has been circulating online for a while now, citing “Japanese doctors” who claimed that drinking water every now and then can flush coronavirus down to your stomach, and once there, it will be killed by stomach acids.
Although regular water drinking is good health advice, there’s no research-based proof that it can keep COVID-19 from infecting you. Doctors advise frequent water intake to ill patients, in general, to replace the lost fluids in the body.
Again, the best prevention measure is to wash your hands regularly, boost your immune system, and stay indoors, if possible. All this will help guard your family against coronavirus.
Myth: People should wear a face mask while exercising
Truth: People should maintain a physical distance of at least one meter from others
World Health Organization discourages wearing a face mask while exercising as masks reduce the ability to breathe comfortably. Sweat can make the face masks wet and promotes the growth of microorganisms.
Experts advise maintaining a physical distance of at least one meter from other people to prevent the spread of the virus. Avoiding crowded places is also advisable to keep social distancing. Check the rules of your city regarding the places you can go to exercise outside.
Myth: Thermal scanner can detect COVID-19
Fact: Thermal scanner CANNOT detect COVID-19
Thermal scanners are effective in detecting fever, not coronavirus. It cannot detect people who are infected with COVID-19. Although fever is one of the symptoms of the virus, it doesn’t automatically mean that the person is infected with COVID-19.
There are many causes of fever. Taking precautions when you have mild to high fever is also important nowadays due to the pandemic. Call your healthcare provider if you need assistance or seek medical care.
Myth: Taking Hydroxychloroquine can cure COVID-19
Fact: There are currently NO drugs licensed for COVID-19 treatment
While there are several ongoing drug trials, there is currently no proof that there’s a vaccine or drug that can cure COVID-19. Taking drugs without precautions due to the virus scare can only make the situation worse. The misuse of hydroxychloroquine can cause serious side effects that may even lead to death.
Many health organizations around the world are exerting efforts in researching and developing medicines to treat COVID-19. Reading news from credible sources is important to keep yourself updated with facts and updates regarding the virus.
Myth: Exposing yourself to the sun can protect you from COVID-19
Fact: Even countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19
There is no scientific data stating that hot weather conditions can stop the spread of COVID-19. In fact, countries with warm and humid weather like Iran and Australia have a rising number of infections.
WHO states that the most effective way of preventing the spread of the virus is by thoroughly washing hands and avoiding touching eyes, mouth, and nose. Aside from these, keeping a physical distance is another way to keep yourself safe from infection.
Myth: Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds without coughing means you have no COVID-19 infection
Fact: You can confirm whether you are infected by COVID-19 or not by laboratory test
Another myth that has been circulating social media is a breathing exercise saying that if you can hold your breath for 10 seconds without coughing or feeling discomfort means that you’re free from COVID-19 infection.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness, and fever. The best way to confirm if you have the virus is by undergoing laboratory tests. Doing this kind of breathing exercise can only do more harm than good.
Myth: Vaccines against pneumonia can be used as a protection against the COVID-19 virus
Fact: Vaccines against pneumonia DO NOT provide protection against COVID-19
Vaccines developed against pneumonia-like pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine do not provide protection against the COVID-19 virus.
The virus is new and different from other viruses that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers from all over the world are trying to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 through drug trials and research.
On the other hand, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended by experts to protect your health.
The coronavirus outbreak has gotten the world anxious and restless. More than the virus itself, fear has become contagious. Do your part in stopping its spread. Be updated on the latest news and updates on COVID-19 by reading news from credible sources. Spreading fake news amid the pandemic would only worsen the situation. Learn to verify COVID-19 facts and myths.