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Coronavirus Outbreak: Experts Address Myths Vs Facts About The Disease

Since the virus is new, there are still a lot of things unknown about it which has given rise to misinformation and unproven claims

Coronavirus Outbreak: Experts Address Myths Vs Facts About The Disease

New Delhi: Since its outbreak in China in December and consequently across the other parts of the world, misconceptions about coronavirus are also spreading. Apart from misinformation about the source of the virus and how it spreads to its cure there are quite a few unproven claims about novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global emergency on January 30, 2020, also noted that along with the virus, the spread of misinformation about it is also a matter of grave concern. It stated,

The 2019-nCoV outbreak and response has been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic’ – an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.

As health experts struggle to learn more about the virus that has so far killed over 400 people, here are some myths propagating about coronavirus and a fact check by experts.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak: ‘It Is A Mild Illness,’ Says AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria

Myth: Antibiotics, herbal remedies, homoeopathy or other drugs can treat Coronavirus infection

Fact: While talking TO NDTV about the treatments available to cure the infection caused by Coronavirus, Dr. Shyam Kukreja, Head of the Paediatric Department at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Patparganj, Delhi, asserted that there is no specific treatment against the virus at present. Though some potential drugs are under investigation, they are at a very early stage and are yet to undergo any clinical trial, he said.

WHO has also highlighted that ‘it is a new disease and needs a new vaccine’.

According to Neuroscientist Dr. Sumaiya Shaikh, there is no tried and tested proof of alternative forms of medicines like Ayurveda and homoeopathy being effective in curing the infection.

Natural remedies like gargling with salt water, eating garlic cloves or having some Chinese medicines as potential treatment options for coronavirus are nothing more than rumours, as per Dr. Laxman Jessani, Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.

Also Read: Coronavirus In India: Medical Expert Exclusively Speaks With NDTV About Staying Safe Amidst The Coronavirus Outbreak

Myth: Surgical face mask can prevent the spread of coronavirus

Fact: Busting this myth, Dr. Kukreja highlighted that surgical face masks cannot prevent infection from Coronavirus. This is because there are a lot of pores in such a mask which allow bacteria and viruses to pass through, he said.

However, he asserted that wearing a mask is highly recommended if one is going to a crowded space, or using public transport. He said that the only mask that can work in this case is the N-95 mask that is designed to block 95 per cent of airborne particles. In case, N-95 masks are not available, one must wear three surgical masks to avoid the virus.

If a person has already been infected and is either showing symptoms or is sick, then the mask must be disposed of after using it once to avoid the spread of the virus.

Myth: Handwashing cannot prevent the virus infection

Fact: Handwashing is highly recommended by experts as a preventive measure. While using hand sanitisers are advised by health experts, there are a few things that Dr. Kukreja advises,

Usually, people take a small drop of the sanitiser on their palm and just rub it lightly and they feel they are good to go. But one should take at least a coin size/ 1 milliliter of sanitiser that has at least 60 per cent alcohol and should be rubbed onto hands, wrists and between fingers for a minimum of 30 seconds.

The health experts have recommended washing hands with soap and water for better prevention.

Also Read: How To Prevent The Spread Of Novel Corona Virus

Myth: The virus can spread through eating seafood

Fact: Dr. Jessani said,

Reports indicate that snakes were sold in the local seafood market in Wuhan, raising the possibility that the 2019-nCoV might have jumped from the host species – bats – to snakes and then to humans at the beginning of this Coronavirus outbreak. However, how the virus could adapt to both the cold-blooded and warm-blooded hosts remains a mystery.

Myth: Pets can spread the virus

Fact: While the animal-human contact has been linked to the spread of the virus, ‘pets’ being a spreading agent of the virus is a rumour. According to WHO, there is no established link that pets can be infected with the virus. However, it has advised handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after contact with pets, especially before meals or touching one’s face.

Myth: Receiving packages from China may risk contracting the virus

Fact: Many people believe that there is a danger of contracting the virus from parcels or letter from China. However, WHO has assured that coronavirus does not survive on surfaces of objects, so people receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the virus. It is mainly known to transmit through close contact with an infected individual, which includes coughing and sneezing.

Myth: Healthy individuals are not at the risk

Fact: Many people believe that only those individuals with a weak immune system or with other respiratory issues are at risk of coronavirus. But everyone is at equal risk, even healthy individuals. Hence, it is important every individual protects him or herself by taking the necessary precautionary measures.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.


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