Tuesday | 14 April | 2020
By Dr Eugene Brink
One of the most maddening things about the rise of COVID-19 is the endless stream of fake news and lay opinions surrounding it.
People spread all and any unproven and sensationalist rumour on social media with no thought of verifying it. Most of these rumours and opinions have no accompanying source or sources to vouch for its authenticity.
Fake news and false facts raise the level of anxiety in society and individuals and cause needless panic. They stymie efforts to contain it and sow confusion and discord.
We have consulted some solid sources on the fact and fiction of the virus and compiled a truncated list of COVID-19 myths that require some immediate and decisive busting:
- You’re safe in higher temperatures
The World Health Organisation (WHO) contends that you are able to catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot it is. “Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19. To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.”
- A vaccine is available
The prestigious Johns Hopkins School of Medicine states that there is currently no vaccine available for the new Corona virus. “Scientists have already begun working on one, but developing a vaccine that is safe and effective in human beings will take many months.”
- Hairdryers can kill it
This is somewhat of an outlandish one, but does make some sense. And yet, it is still spurious. “People are thinking hot air kills this virus and are using blow dryers or somehow increasing the room temperature to help prevent the spread, but that will not happen,” paediatric infectious disease specialist Dr Frank Esper, says. “That type of heat is not necessarily going to cause a change in the infectiousness of this particular virus.”
- You can’t recover from it
It’s a big relief that this is only myth. “Most of the people who catch COVID-19 can recover and eliminate the virus from their bodies,” says the WHO. “If you catch the disease, make sure you treat your symptoms. If you have cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early – but call your health facility by telephone first. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.”
- Cold weather can kill the virus
The WHO says there is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill COVID-19 or other diseases. “The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water,” the world body advises.
- Mosquitoes can spread it
“This is a respiratory virus and honestly we’re doing just fine passing it amongst ourselves. We don’t need mosquitoes’ help,” Esper says. “Mosquitoes can transmit disease only by sucking your blood and transferring that blood into someone else.”
Cleveland Clinic, 2020, “5 Common COVID-19 Myths, busted”, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-common-covid-19-myths-busted/.
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 2020, “Corona disease 2019: Myth vs. fact”, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/2019-novel-coronavirus-myth-versus-fact.
World Health Organisation, 2020, “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters”, https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters
* All information was correct at the time of publication.