The sudden rise in the number of people contracting the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Philippines is alarming, but it is important not to panic and to instead know the facts surrounding the virus. The most reassuring piece of information is that most people who become infected with the virus (around 80%) may recover from the disease without needing special treatment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Myths surrounding COVID-19
With all the information coming from the Internet, it is easy to be confused or to be swayed by what people are sharing online so think before you click. Here are some of the popular myths about COVID-19 and the response from the WHO:
1. Will taking a hot bath help prevent the virus?
No. A person’s normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower, according to the WHO. You might even hurt or burn yourself if the water is too hot.
Similarly, WHO country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said that the summer season will not kill COVID-19. “We are seeing continuing transmission in very tropical countries like Singapore, Malaysia. And so, the evidence we have at this point is not supportive,” he said during a press briefing in the Malacañang Palace.
2. Can COVID-19 be transmitted through products manufactured in China or other countries with COVID-19 cases?
While research has shown that the new coronavirus can linger on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days, the WHO says it is unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after being “moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures.” And while infected patients can contaminate the bedrooms they stay in and the bathrooms they use, research has found that COVID-19 can be killed with disinfectants.
Click here for a list of disinfectants approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and use one on a surface that you think is contaminated. Afterward, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water, advises the WHO.
3. Are hand dryers and ultraviolet disinfection lamps effective in killing the virus?
Frequent handwashing with soap and water is the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19, but using a hand dryer by itself will not be effective in killing the virus. UV lamps should also not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of the skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation, according to WHO.
4. Can spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body kill the new coronavirus?
Alcohol and chlorine can be useful when disinfecting surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations, according to the WHO. Besides, viruses that have already entered your body cannot be killed even if you spray alcohol or chlorine all over your body. It can even be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (for example, your eyes and mouth).
5. Can flu and pneumonia vaccines reduce your risk of getting COVID-19?
The flu vaccine, pneumococcal vaccines and the Haemophilus influenza type B (HIB) vaccine do not provide protection against COVID-19. The virus is new and different so it needs its own vaccine, according to the WHO. However, getting these vaccinations to fight against respiratory illnesses is still highly recommended.
6. Can regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection?
Although there is limited evidence that regularly rinsing your nose with saline can help people recover quickly from the common cold, there is no evidence that it can protect you from contracting COVID-19. It has not been shown to prevent other respiratory infections as well.
7. Can eating garlic help prevent infection?
Garlic is a healthy food that may have antimicrobial properties but there is no evidence from the current outbreak that shows that eating it has protected people from COVID-19.
8. Can mosquitoes transmit COVID-19?
No information or evidence suggests the virus can be transmitted through mosquito bites. COVID-19 is spread primarily through droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.
To curb the spread of the virus, frequent handwashing and proper cough etiquette must be observed. Social distancing, or the process of limiting people to gather and spread the virus, “is the only thing that seems to have a major impact on transmission,” according to Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana, M.D., DTM&H, FPCP, FIDSA, an infectious disease specialist and molecular biologist at the University of the Philippines and the Philippine General Hospital.
Assembling a coronavirus preparedness kit can be useful in case of emergencies. Click here for what to put inside.