As the coronavirus worms its way around the globe, catching people off guard, here is a list of myths about the Covid-19 disease from downing silver potions to cow urine as cures.
No. Hand dryers are not effective in killing the virus. To protect yourself against the virus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly using paper towels or a warm air dryer.
UV lamps should not be used to sterilise hands or other areas of skin, as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.
Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (that is, a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the coronavirus.
However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever. This is because it takes between two and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.
No. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (such as those in the eyes and mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.
Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the coronavirus. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.
At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.
No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as the pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the coronavirus.
The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against it, and the WHO is supporting their efforts.
Although these vaccines are not effective against the coronavirus, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.
No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.
There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regular rinsing of the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.
Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the coronavirus.
No. Sesame oil does not kill the coronavirus. There are some chemical disinfectants that can kill the virus on surfaces. These include bleach/chlorine-based disinfectants, ether solvents, 75 per cent ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform.
However, they have little or no impact on the virus if you put them on the skin or under your nose. It can even be dangerous to put these chemicals on your skin.
People of all ages can be infected by the coronavirus. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
The WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.
No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.
The coronavirus is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.
However, if you are hospitalised for the virus, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.
To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus.
However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimised supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials. The WHO is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners.
Condemning Western medicine as “un-Islamic”, Iranian cleric Ayatollah Tabrizian prescribed his alternative: Before bedtime, drench some cotton in violet oil and apply onto your anus.
Mr Tabrizian, who is from the city of Qom, believes the oil to be miraculous. According to The New Arab newspaper, he has also claimed that it can reverse Down Syndrome.
COW URINE AND DUNG
About 200 people gathered in New Delhi on March 14 to drink to the city’s health – with earthen cups of cow urine.
In the Hindu-majority country, cows are considered sacred and some hail their urine as cures to ailments such as arthritis and asthma.
Ms Suman Haripriya, an assembly member of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, also suggested that cow dung and urine could help cure the coronavirus.
This claim was debunked by the Indian Virological Society’s Dr Shailendra Saxena, who told the BBC: “There is no medical evidence to show that cow urine has anti-viral characteristics.” It is also a potential danger as “bovine faecal matter could contain a coronavirus which might replicate in humans”.
In just 12 hours, certain strains of the coronavirus could be “eliminated” by a drinkable silver solution, claimed a guest “natural health expert” on the American television programme The Jim Bakker Show. The guest was hosted by televangelist James Bakker, who had previously been convicted of fraud in 1989.
According to CBS News, the show had been selling the Silver Sol and Optivida Silver Solution on its website since last month.
Sales stopped after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the show a warning letter for “fraudulent prevention and treatment claims”.
In January, a bleach cocktail was touted as a solution to the coronavirus outbreak on social media.
American YouTuber Jordan Sather, among other far-right conspiracy theorists, suggested that the 28 per cent sodium chlorite and distilled water mixture is deadly to pathogens but safe for humans.
Business Insider reported that consumers were told to “activate” the product by mixing in citric acids such as lemon juice.
After receiving reports of people suffering from vomiting, diarrhoea, low blood pressure and acute liver failure after drinking it, the FDA warned the public against the “dangerous industrial bleach”.
A doctored headline claiming that cocaine kills the coronavirus caused such a frenzy on the French Internet that public health officials had to crack down on it.
In a Twitter post on March 8, the country’s Ministry of Solidarity and Health wrote: “No, cocaine does not protect against Covid-19. It’s an addictive drug that causes serious adverse and harmful effects.”
“There’s a lot of baloney out there on social media,” said Florida County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper at a meeting on March 20, shortly after claiming that one can kill the coronavirus by holding a hairdryer to one’s nostrils and inhaling the hot air.
He theorised that nasal passages and membranes are the “coolest part of your body”, so viruses settle there before entering the lungs. They can be eliminated by applying heat, he said.
The following day, Mr Culpepper responded to criticism by saying he would not offer any more suggestions “unless they are tried and proven”. He said he had wanted only to “give comfort” to citizens who did not have health insurance to treat their families, reported USA Today.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.