As the novel coronavirus continues to infect people around the world, news articles and social media posts about the outbreak continue to spread online. Unfortunately, this relentless flood of information can make it difficult to separate fact from fiction — and during a viral outbreak, rumors and misinformation can be dangerous.
We've compiled a list of the most pervasive myths about the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, the disease it causes, and explained why these rumors are misleading, or just plain wrong.
Myth: Face masks can protect you from the virus
Standard surgical masks cannot protect you from SARS-CoV-2, as they are not designed to block out viral particles and do not lay flush to the face.
That said, surgical masks can help prevent infected people from spreading the virus further by blocking any respiratory droplets that could be expelled from their mouths.
Within health care facilities, special respirators called "N95 respirators" have been shown to greatly reduce the spread of the virus among medical staff. People require training to properly fit N95 respirators around their noses, cheeks and chins to ensure that no air can sneak around the edges of the mask; and wearers must also learn to check the equipment for damage after each use.
Myth: You're way less likely to get this than the flu
To estimate how easily a virus spreads, scientists calculate its "basic reproduction number," or R0 (pronounced R-nought). R0 predicts the number of people who can catch a given bug from a single infected person, Currently, the R0 for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, is estimated at about 2.2, meaning a single infected person will infect about 2.2 others, on average. By comparison, the flu has an R0 of 1.3.
Perhaps, most importantly, while no vaccine exists to prevent COVID-19, the seasonal flu vaccine prevents influenza relatively well, even when its formulation doesn't perfectly match the circulating viral strains.
Myth: Getting COVID-19 is a death sentence
That's not true.
About 81% of people who are infected with the coronavirus have mild cases of COVID-19. About 13.8% report severe illness, meaning they have shortness of breath, or require supplemental oxygen, and about 4.7% are critical, meaning they face respiratory failure, multi-organ failure or septic shock. The data thus far suggests that only around 2.3% of people infected with COVID-19 die from the virus. People who are older or have underlying health conditions seem to be most at risk of having severe disease or complications. While there's no need to panic, people should take steps to prepare and protect themselves and others from the new coronavirus.
Myth: Pets can spread the new coronavirus
Probably not to humans
One dog in China contracted a "low-level infection" from its owner, who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, meaning dogs may be vulnerable to picking up the virus from people, according to The South China Morning Post. The infected Pomeranian has not fallen ill or shown symptoms of disease, and no evidence suggests that the animal could infect humans.
Several dogs and cats tested positive for a similar virus, SARS-CoV, during an outbreak in 2003, animal health expert Vanessa Barrs of City University told the Post. "Previous experience with SARS suggests that cats and dogs will not become sick or transmit the virus to humans," she said. "Importantly, there was no evidence of viral transmission from pet dogs or cats to humans."
Just in case, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people with COVID-19 have someone else walk and care for their companion animals while they are sick. And people should always wash their hands after snuggling with animals anyway, as companion pets can spread other diseases to people, according to the CDC.
Myth: Kids can't catch the coronavirus
Children can definitely catch COVID-19
Though initial reports suggested fewer cases in children compared with adults. For example, a Chinese study from Hubei province released in February found that of more than 44,000 cases of COVID-19, about only 2.2% involved children under age 19.
However, more recent studies suggest children are as likely as adults to become infected. In a study reported March 5, researchers analyzed data from more than 1,500 people in Shenzhen, and found that children potentially exposed to the virus were just as likely to become infected as adults were, according to Nature News. Regardless of age, about 7% to 8% of contacts of COVID-19 cases later tested positive for the virus.
Still, when children become infected, they seem less likely to develop severe disease
Myth: If you have coronavirus, "you'll know"
No, you won't
COVID-19 causes a wide range of symptoms, many of which appear in other respiratory illnesses such as the flu and the common cold. Specifically, common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and rarer symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting and a runny nose. In severe cases, the disease can progress into a serious pneumonia-like illness — but early on, infected people may show no symptoms at all.
U.S. health officials have now advised the American public to prepare for an epidemic, meaning those who have not traveled to affected countries or made contact with people who recently traveled may begin catching the virus. As the outbreak progresses in the U.S., state and local health departments should provide updates about when and where the virus has spread. If you live in an affected region and begin experiencing high fever, weakness, lethargy or shortness of breath, or or have underlying conditions and milder symptoms of the disease, you should seek medical attention at the nearest hospital. From there, you may be tested for the virus
Myth: Smokers are immune
Nope , as per WHO
Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth. Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness.
Smoking products such as water pipes often involve the sharing of mouth pieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings.
Conditions that increase oxygen needs or reduce the ability of the body to use it properly will put patients at higher risk of serious lung conditions such as pneumonia.
Myth: Sanitization without cleaning works
Before you can sanitize or disinfect, the dirt and debris must be removed. Sanitization can't be effective if the surface is soiled . Consider it a two step process- First Cleaning then sanitization. It's highly recommendable by Go Hygiene to take experts view first before taking any step regarding sanitization or disinfection
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