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The coronavirus is populating the news more than ever before as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise to unprecedented levels. When the World Health Organisation named the coronavirus a pandemic, there were many popular posts on social media containing misinformation and fake news about how to treat and prevent the virus. Facebook has made efforts to try and remove such posts but there remains so much misguided and dangerous advice out there online. This article will dispel the top 11 myths about coronavirus 

NHS England and the WHO website have provided the information for this article. We recommended you only use trusted sources like these when seeking advice.  

 

Myth 1: Coronavirus only affects older people, younger people are immune 

 

Coronavirus can infect people of all ages. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. If you fall into these categories, you must practice social distancing for at least 12 weeks. Guidance on this for different groups can be found here. Many people who have coronavirus may display no symptoms or very mild symptoms. They must also stay at home to protect those who are more vulnerable and prevent spread. 

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Myth 2: Hot humid weather and very cold temperatures can kill the coronavirus 

 

From the evidence so far, coronavirus is in all areas, including areas with hot and humid weather. There is also no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the coronavirus or other diseases. The sun’s UV rays do not kill the coronavirus so sunbathing will not help. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in an area reporting covid-19. The best way to protect yourself is by social distancing, frequently washing your hands with soap and avoiding touching your face.  

 

Myth 3: Food packaging from supermarkets and deliveries brings germs into our homes 

 

The NHS website’s coronavirus page says: “It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.” 

Wash fresh fruit and vegetables as normal before consuming.  

The key thing to remember is that the biggest risk of transmission is from person to person, which is why social distancing measures are vital in slowing the spread. Food deliveries to vulnerable or elderly people should be left on the doorstep.  

It is thought that the virus can survive on cardboard for up to 4 hours and so if concerned wipe all groceries with antibacterial cloths before bringing them into your home. 

 

Myth 4: Hand dryers are effective at killing the coronavirus 

 

No. Hand dryers are not effective in killing coronavirus. To protect yourself against coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Clean you hands then dry them thoroughly by using a clean towel, paper towels or a warm air dryer. Thorough drying of hands will also prevent the skin from becoming dry and cracked 

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Myth 5: Vaccines against pneumonia protect you against coronavirus 

 

No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus. 

The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are working on antibody tests and are trying to develop a vaccine. 

Although these vaccines are not effective against coronavirus, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health. The flu viruses are still in circulation alongside the coronavirus and are responsible for the deaths of many people every year. 

There are two types of vaccine available for pneumonia. They protect against the most common cause of pneumonia, the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. They aim to protect people who are at a higher risk from pneumonia, including older people and babies.
The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) is for people over 65 and anyone over the age of two who’s in a high-risk group. Most adults will only need to have this vaccination once in their life.
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is for all infants by the NHS. Babies get their first dose when they’re 2 months old. 

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Myth 6: There are specific medicines that can prevent or treat coronavirus 

 

To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the novel coronavirus. For pain relief, it has been recommended to opt for paracetamol over ibuprofen. It is thought that ibuprofen may lead to a worsening of symptoms. Researchers do not as yet know why. 

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.

It is thought that some antimalarial drugs may be beneficial in the treatment of the virus. UK randomised trials have just begun with this. Some other possible treatments are also being investigated. At present these are still in the research stage. 

A vaccine is unlikely to be available for another 12 months. 

Click here for an Emergency First Aid at work course with Covid-19 updates 

 

Myth 7: Eating garlic helps prevent infection with the coronavirus 

 

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. 

 

Myth 8: Regularly rinsing your nose with saline helps prevent infection 

 

No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with coronavirus.  

There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections. 

 

Myth 9: Antibiotics are effective in preventing and treating coronavirus 

 

No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.  

The coronavirus (which leads to the illness Covid19) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics are not a means of prevention or treatment. 

However, if hospitalized with coronavirus, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible. This is usually a bacterial pneumonia. 

 

Myth 10: Hands are the only things we should clean 

 

While handwashing is paramount, surfaces need careful attention. Door handles, lift buttons, supermarket trollies, petrol pumps and letter boxes are matters of concern and can be breeding grounds for germs. 

If someone sneezes on to their hands and then touches a lift button or touches a door handle, then that’s going to be the bigger problem. 

Wear gloves to prevent touching surfaces in supermarkets or at work. Prevent spread by wearing a medical mask if you are ill or caring for someone ill. Government advice remains that for most healthy people, masks remain unnecessary. If wearing a mask, it is important to know how to put them on and take them off without contaminating yourself. 

Anti bacterial hand gel

Myth 10: Drink lots of hot drinks to kill the coronavirus 

 

Drinking lots of hot drinks seems to be the overriding myth which is circulating online. As with myth 2, hot drinks, like hot weather, do not kill the virus. Avoid caffeinated drinks like tea or coffee as these can dehydrate you. It is important to stay hydrated however the myth that you should drink water every 15 minutes to keep your mouth moist is false. There is no biological mechanism where the virus enters the body as it is a respiratory disease.  

There is no need to avoid eating cold things such as ice cream or having ice in your drinks – this is another myth with no factual basis. 

 

Myth 11: If you have a sore throat, gargle with antiseptic in warm water – with salt, vinegar or lemon juice daily 

 

Again, the coronavirus is a respiratory condition, not something you get through the gastrointestinal tract so this will not help. Some people believe the virus enters through the throat where it remains 3-4 days before passing to the lungs. There is no evidence that it can live in the throat in this way. 

 

Key coronavirus advice: simplified  

 

Following government and NHS advice, in order to best protect yourself and others you must: 

  • Stay at home  
  • Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds numerous times every day. At least every two hours. Always after coughing, sneezing, visiting the loo and before eating 
  • Avoid touching your face  
  • Clean surfaces with disinfectant regularly  
  • Keep 2 metres apart from other people in public places  
  • Self-isolate from people in your house if they show symptoms 
  • If you are ill, do not go out. Dispose of used tissues carefully, double bagged or flushed down the loo. Do not share towels, bedrooms and bathroom space if possible.  

 

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While there are many open questions around the coronavirus, many answers will come as the pandemic evolves, antibody tests are carried out and scientists can get a better grasp of the virus’s behaviour.  

Emma is offering regular updates, free expert advice, answering questions and offering video tutorials on the Stay Safe Community Facebook Group.  

Stay Connected and Stay Safe. 

 

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Emma Hammett
Author: Emma Hammett