Myth 1: My mask will save me!
Well, that’s not entirely true. MOST face masks won’t save you. Those that can be purchased over-the-counter at your neighborhood pharmacy are just surgical masks. These are very useful in protecting against biological fluids, but provide little protection against airborne viruses such as the Coronoavirus. So even if you can find a pharmacy that hasn’t been picked clean, it’s likely they won’t have what you’re looking for. And wearing the wrong type of mask might give you a false sense of security. For reference, the right type of mask is an N95 respirator (you can purchase one here). Simple preventative measures such as staying away from over-crowded places, keeping a 1-2 meter distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing, and washing your hands with warm water and soap are your best defense.
UPDATE: Face coverings can help reduce the spread of the virus. While they may not prevent you from actually contracting the virus, they do act as a physical barrier that helps prevent you from spreading virus carrying particles (be it through exhaling, coughing or sneezeing) from reaching those around you. See the World Health Organization site for more info.
Myth 2: Hand sanitizer is your best friend
In the same vein as the myth above, most hand sanitizers will do little to help stop the spread of the virus and might even give you a false sense of security. They are just not as good at getting rid of germs on your hands as regular hand soap, because most people don’t use the right type or apply it correctly. An idiot’s guide to using hand sanitizer:
- Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content (For example: Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer).
- Apply a generous amount, making sure the hands are completely covered.
- Rub under the nails, between the fingers and the back of the hands.
- Rub hands until dry.
Myth 3: I’m safe if I just wash my hands
Oh if only that were true. Hand washing CAN be a very effective way to combat the spread of germs, but only if it is done properly. It’s reported in the Journal of Environmental Health that just 5% of people actually wash their hands correctly. Proper Hand washing basics:
- Get some soap (if the stores haven’t already been picked clean)
- Wet hands under warm running water
- Lather hands with soap (ensuring to get under the nails, between the fingers and back of the hands)
- Scrub for 20 seconds (yes, that long!)
- Rinse hands under warm water
- Thoroughly dry them with an air dryer or a towel
Myth 4: Antibiotics will cure me
Unfortunately antibiotics won’t do a thing! Coronavirus is just that, a virus, not a bacteria so antibiotics have no effect. All that modern medicine can do is treat the symptoms, you’ll be stuck with the virus until your body fights it back. Vaccines and other specific treatments are in development, but these are not currently commercially available, and likely won’t be for up to a year or more.
Myth 5: Coronavirus affects only old or sick people
While younger people and those with no underlying health conditions are unlikely to become critically ill, no one is immune to the Coronavirus. Since it is so virulent, anyone who does fall ill has a greater chance of developing serious respiratory symptoms than those of the regular flu. Everyone should take reasonable precautions with their health and do their part to ease the burden on the health system so that those who are in serious need of care can get it.
Myth 6: It’s no more dangerous than the flu
While it is true that most people who get coronavirus will encounter symptoms no worse than a typical winter flu, the virality and mortality rate are definitely concerning. Current estimates put the Coronavirus at over 2% mortality rate. Meaning it is 20 times more deadly than the seasonal flu. And given that the flu kills roughly 290,000 to 650,000 people per year globally, the numbers look pretty devastating if this transgresses into an unstoppable global pandemic.
Myth 7: My Amazon order from China has Coronavirus
There’s no reason to rush to cancel all your recent impulse buys on Amazon. You will not catch Coronavirus from your package being delivered from abroad. These types of viruses just do not survive very long on objects such as letters or packages. If you’re concerned, even the most clingy germs will only last up to around 72 hours on the most conducive surfaces (typically harder, less porous surfaces like metal).
Myth 8: Garlic can kill off germs
Garlic is considered a wonder food with amazing health properties. Some studies point towards garlic even having antimicrobial properties. However there is no evidence to suggest that eating garlic or using any other alternative medicine remedies will protect against the coronavirus.
Myth 9: I got the flu shot, I’m immune!
Current Flu vaccines will not provide protection against the Coronavirus because it is such a new virus strain. While researchers are in the midst of developing one, it is not yet ready for public distribution.
Myth 10: Airport checkpoints & thermal scanners will prevent the spread
These measures certainly help but are only so effective. Checkpoints are only as good as the people who staff them and the protocols that have been implemented. Thermal detectors are great at identifying people who have developed a fever, but cannot detect those who have yet to show symptoms. Tips to help prevent the spread:
- Stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days if you have come in contact with someone who has the virus
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water
- Keep your distance from anyone who is sneezing or coughing
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Seek medical attention immediately if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing
Nothing is more important than your health. Stay safe out there. For more information on Covid 19 and additional steps you can take to protect yourself, visit the World Health Organization’s website.