Information and Myths about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Hi Everyone!

There have been a lot of myths floating around the whole coronavirus outbreak, which has added to the panic across the world. It is very important to have the right information as regards the disease and its prevention, to be able to fight it and cope with the crisis. Here are some points to remember and share with your families:

1)To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

2)Antibiotics do not work against any viruses, only bacteria.

3)People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. Hence, it is important to protect yourselves by following good hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, healthy diet.

4)There is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic/onion has protected people from the new coronavirus.

5)Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

6)Spraying alcohol or chlorine or sanitizer 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 (i.e. eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.

7)UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.

8)Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, 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 by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.

9)To date, there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

10)Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19.
11)The COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather.

12)Avoid touching your face, nose, mouth, eyes.

13)Practice respiratory hygiene – Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

14)When to use a mask-
• If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with the suspected 2019-nCoV infection.
• Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
• Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning
with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
• If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

15)How to use and dispose of a mask-
• Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
• Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
• Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-
based hand rub or soap and water.
• Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-
use masks.
• To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask);
discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

16)Do not self medicate. See a doctor if symptoms of flu develop.

17)When to wash hands-
• Before, during and after cooking/handling food items.
• Before and after eating.
• After coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose.
• After using the toilet.
• After playing with pets.
• Whenever they feel or look dirty.
• Before and after cleaning surfaces, dishes, etc.
• Before wearing a mask and after disposing of a mask.
• After travel.

18)Avoid over-crowding and unnecessary travel. Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

19)Meditation, exercise, a healthy balanced diet, relaxation techniques help improve your immunity and help you stay calm and healthy at such times.

20)Self-isolate by staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache, low-grade fever (37.3 C or above) and a slight runny nose, until you recover. If it is essential for you to have someone bring you supplies or to go out, e.g. to buy food, then wear a mask to avoid infecting other people. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

Dr Labdhy Nirmal
(ENT surgeon)