With the total number of coronavirus cases across the world rising consistently, the fear of death and insecurity is mounting. Worse, there is still a big question mark on a possible treatment for Covid-19. And, in the midst of this crisis, misinformation has been spreading virally. On WhatsApp, which boasts over 2 billion users worldwide, and other social messaging networks like Twitter, Facebook and TikTok, the spread of misinformation in many ways seems to mimic how Covid-19 itself moves through societies — from individual to individual, group to group.
Here is afact-check on some of the common myths being circulated on social media and messaging platforms:
1. Myth: Drinking alcohol protects against coronavirus
Fact: Drinking alcohol does not protect you against Covid-19, and can in fact be dangerous. The harmful use of alcohol increases your risk of health problems, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
2. Myth: Thermal scanners can detect coronavirus
Fact: Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have a fever. However, they cannot detect people who are infected with Covid-19. There are many causes of fever.
3. Myth: Hydroxychloroquine, Gilead’s remdesivir, and other drugs can cure coronavirus
Fact: While several drug trials are ongoing, there is currently no proof that either hydroxychloroquine or any other drug can cure or prevent Covid-19.
4. Myth: Adding pepper to meals prevents/cures coronavirus
Fact: While pepper in soups and other meals can enhance their taste, it cannot prevent or cure coronavirus. Practise social distancing, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, use hand sanitisers, and face masks to avoid coming in contact with the virus.
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5. Myth: Coronavirus is spread through house flies and mosquitos
Fact: So far, there is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus can be transmitted through houseflies and mosquitoes.
6. Myth: Spraying disinfectant into your body or drinking methanol, ethanol will protect you from Covid 19
Fact: DO NOT, under any circumstances, spray or introduce bleach or any other disinfectant into your body. These substances can be poisonous if ingested and cause irritation and damage to your skin and eyes. Bleach and disinfectant can be used to disinfect surfaces only. Methanol, ethanol, and bleach are poisons.
7. Myth: Mobile networks spread coronavirus
Fact: Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. Coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface.
8. Myth: Exposing yourself to the sun prevents Covid-19
Fact: Countries with hot weather, including India, have reported Covid-19 cases in large numbers. That should put an end to the claims that the virus cannot survive under the sun.
9. Myth: Cold weather and snow can kill coronavirus
Fact: According to WHO, the normal human body temperature remains around 36.5 degrees Celcius to 37 degrees C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. Hence, there’s no reason to believe than snow or cold weather can kill coronavirus.
10. Myth: Taking bath with hot water prevents coronavirus
Fact: Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching the virus. The normal body temperature remains 36.5 degrees C to 37 degrees C, regardless of the temperature of shower.
11. Myth: Ordering or buying products shipped from overseas will give you coronavirus
Fact: WHO says that the likelihood of becoming infected with Covid-19 from a commercial package is low since it has likely travelled over several days and been exposed to different temperatures and conditions during transit.
12. Myth: This novel coronavirus is not new, I’ve heard of it before
Fact: The term novel coronavirus means it’s a new type of coronavirus, which hasn’t been previously detected. ‘Coronavirus’ is a family of viruses and the reason people may have seen ‘Human Coronavirus’ on labels is that this refers to previous strains of the virus.
There are several names being used for this novel coronavirus. WHO has called the disease Covid-19 but the virus itself is called SARS-CoV-2.
13. Myth: Healthy food can prevent/cure coronavirus
Fact: People cannot prevent Covid-19 infection through diet. However, a healthy lifestyle, including balanced diet, has a positive significance in maintaining an immune system against virus attack.
14. Myth: Drink water every 15 minutes to avoid corona
Fact: To date, no cure for the deadly infection has been found and we can very safely say, water alone won’t solve the problem. It can only hydrate the body and lower the risk of infection by cutting outside effects. Water can’t kill the virus.