Dr Anjum Ishaque
Disinformation about Covid-19 is spreading, making it more difficult to deal with the outbreak. Here are the facts to clarify how you can catch coronavirus, how to protect yourself and other vital information you should know
1. Hand dryers will kill the virus
No, dryers or other heat sources are not effective as much higher temperatures are required for disinfection. Hand washing with soap and water or alcohol-based gels alone will kill the virus before it can enter your body through the mouth and nose.
2. Spraying yourself or bathing with chlorine or other disinfectants will kill the virus
Not true, especially if the infection has entered your body already. It is likely to cause more harm by damaging skin. Instead clean surfaces with chlorine and other disinfectants and then wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based gels.
3. Gargling with mouth wash will kill the virus
There is no evidence at present to support this.
4. Taking antiviral medication such as Tamiflu will prevent you from getting the Covid-19 infection
There is no evidence at present on whether this is likely to be effective. Tamiflu has limited effect on influenza virus so is unlikely to be helpful here.
5. Taking pneumonia vaccination will help prevent coronavirus pneumonia
Vaccination available for pneumonia is effective against common strains of bacteria. It will therefore only protect you from getting infections caused by these strains. These vaccines are recommended for people over 50 or those with certain medical conditions such as diabetes or people undergoing chemotherapy for cancer etc.
6. If there is no fever then I cannot have the virus
This is not true as symptoms can take 2-10 days to develop. You may therefore be carrying the infection at this stage without any fever, cough or other symptoms.
7. Wearing a mask will stop me from getting the infection
This is more helpful in protecting others from catching an infection that you may be carrying.
8. Pets at home can spread the virus
There is no evidence at present that this is the case and seems unlikely. People should be washing their hands after touching pets as part of general hygiene measures.
9. Getting the virus means certain death or serious illness
It seems that the death rate and risk of serious infection is less than the influenza virus. According to latest figures 80 per cent of people will get a mild disease, around 20 per cent may need hospitalisation, with a 2 per cent fatality rate.
10. The infection was created in a lab
All evidence points to Covid-19 developing in a market in China and spreading to humans that visited this market. Natural mutations of viruses are common causes of new diseases like Sars and Mers in the past and have happened throughout human history. It is likely to have developed in an animal species and then passed on to humans.
- Source: Friday Magazine