The Coronavirus outbreak is sadly here with us. It has affected almost every aspect of our daily lives. Our freedom, our economy, our movement, our social lives, and just about everything has come to a halt. As of now, the worldometres live update has recorded 16,578 deaths and 382,741 cases worldwide. The virus spread from China to Europe and now to the rest of the world.
Initially, the African continent had been free from the virus. Recently, however, it has been reported in 43 countries on the continent.
Within recent months, information about the virus has been spreading left, right and centre. In an era that is characterized by easy access to the online world and digital information, there is so much news going around about Coronavirus. I don’t mean to be a pessimist, but some of this information is false. We are all looking for hope that the pandemic will not get to us or to our loved ones. Nobody wants to experience it. However, I’m a strong believer in knowing the truth. We cannot fight the virus if we are stuck with false information.
Here are a few myths that are going around about Coronavirus.
- A face mask will prevent you from getting Coronavirus
While this is true to some extent, wearing a face mask will not fully prevent you from getting the virus. There’s much more to it. Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins says that for the general public without respiratory illness, wearing lightweight disposable surgical masks is not recommended. Since they don’t fit tightly, they may still allow tiny infected droplets to get into the nose, mouth or eyes.
People with the virus on their hands who touch their face under a mask might become infected. Those with a respiratory illness can wear these masks to lessen their chance of infecting others. Bear in mind that stocking up on masks makes fewer available for sick patients and health care workers who need them.
The World Health Organization goes ahead to clarify that masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water. 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.
Coronavirus can also get into the system through the nose and mouth, therefore a mask is not adequate to prevent you from contracting the virus.
- Wearing gloves will help in the prevention of Coronavirus
Gloves are not in any way effective. Wearing gloves will certainly help in preventing the germs from getting to your hands. However, if you wear gloves and touch contaminated surfaces, you are at risk of contracting the virus just as any other person is. Just simple hand washing with soap and water is the most time-tested and the most effective intervention.
According to an article on NBC News, researchers currently believe the virus can live on surfaces. Sneezing or coughing into gloves could create a new surface for the virus to live on, which people might contaminate themselves with when taking off gloves or touching surfaces.
- The virus cannot affect children
Here’s a common myth: That children are immune to the virus. According to data analysed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the median age of patients skews older, between 49 and 56 years old. However, this is not to say that children are completely immune to the virus. There is no evidence to support this phenomenon.
In fact, just a few days ago, a newborn baby was said to have contracted the virus, becoming the youngest person to be infected. The child’s mother was rushed to a hospital days before she gave birth as she was suspected to have pneumonia, which is one of the symptoms of the virus. She had also been tested positive for the virus but the results came in after she had given birth. Authorities are not sure whether the child was infected in the womb or after it was born.
A study conducted in the journal Pediatrics confirms that coronavirus infections are in fact generally less severe in kids, with more than 90% having mild to moderate disease or even being asymptomatic. However, the same study suggests that children may be a critical factor in the rapid spread of the disease. They may have more symptoms that make them contagious, like runny nose and more gastrointestinal symptoms. This raises concerns for the virus being in the feces for several weeks after infection.
A more recent study conducted on March 5th that was reported on Nature News stated that children were just as likely to be infected with the virus as older people. Researchers analyzed data from more than 1,500 people in Shenzhen and found that children potentially exposed to the virus were just as likely to become infected as adults were. Regardless of age, about 7% to 8% of contacts of COVID-19 cases later tested positive for the virus.
- It cannot survive in hot temperatures
This myth has been going round and spreading on Whatsapp groups and other applications: the theory that Coronavirus cannot survive in hot temperatures, and particularly temperatures higher than 26 degrees Celsius. When the virus first started spreading in China, the average temperature was 17 degrees Celsius, according to AccuWeather. Currently in Italy, the second most affected country, the temperatures are about 14 degrees Celsius with 63% humidity. With such consistencies, it only made sense for people to believe that the virus thrives in cool temperatures.
A recent study pointed out the proximity of the major hotspots with consistently similar weather patterns (5-11 degrees Celsius and 47-79% humidity). AccuWeather Founder and CEO, Dr. Joel N. Myers says that the virus is something we’ve never dealt with before, but if we look at other viruses they all had their peak during the cold season.
While established patterns may qualify the theory that Coronavirus cannot survive in hot temperatures, we cannot overlook the countries where it has spread and yet they are currently experiencing high temperatures. In Singapore for example, the current temperature is 31 degrees Celsius, and yet as of 18th March 2020, they reported 266 cases of the virus, according to Aljazeera.
- Black people are immune to coronavirus
You may have heard this one. The theory that blacks are immune to the virus is not in fact true. Several claims have been made based on statistics that there are more whites with the virus than blacks. However, just like I said earlier, we cannot make conclusions based on patterns. There is no evidence to support this claim. Rumour has it that people with melanin in darker tones are less susceptible to getting infected with the virus.
Currently, the virus has spread to 43 countries within the African continent and a larger percentage of these people are black. These statistics are according to Africanews. In Kenya, the first confirmed case of Coronavirus was that of a black person. Popular actor Idris Elba has slammed the idea that black people are immune, after testing positive.
AFP interviewed Professor Amadou Alpha Sall, director of the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, a biomedical research centre tasked with analyzing suspected cases of the novel coronavirus in Africa. He said, “Ethnicity and genetics have no influence on recovery from the virus, and black people don’t have more antibodies than white people.”
- The coronavirus is a death sentence
Let me end this post on a brighter note. Coronavirus does not mean death. In fact, a study published by the Chinese Centre for Death Control suggests that only around 2.3% of people infected with COVID-19 die from the virus. Therefore, if you or anyone you know has the virus, the odds are that they will survive. Have courage and do not panic. We will get through this. Here’s what you need to know about coronavirus and how to protect yourself