Of Coronaphobia and Myths

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coronaphobia

Adv Abdul Rasool Syed l

Amid global fear, ignited by coronavirus, different myths pertaining to this global contagion have also surfaced. People obsessed with coronaphobia are blindly relying on such myths. They find them as panacea to ward off deadly infectious pathogen, scientifically termed as COVID-19.

There are myriad myths surrounding the spread and protective measures, adopted to fight this lethal infection. This piece is aimed at busting such myths and providing the masses with authentic, reliable and effective blueprint to mitigate the impact of this increasingly alarming virus as much as possible.

One of the myths pertaining to corona virus is that getting COVID-19 is a death sentence. That’s not true. About 81% of people who are infected the corona virus have mild cases of COVID-19. According to a study published on Feb, 18 by the Chinese center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 13.8% report severe illness, meaning thereby that they have shortness of breath, or require supplemental oxygen, and about 4.7% are critical, it means that they face respiratory failure, multi-organ failure or septic shock. The data thus far suggests that only around 2.3% of people infected with COVID-19 die from the virus. It reflects that People who are older or have shaky immune system seem to be most at risk of having severe disease or complications

Another myth associated with corona virus is that if you are infected with it” you’ll know by yourself”. No, you won’t. COVID-19 causes wide range of symptoms, many of which appear in other respiratory illnesses such as the flu and the common cold. Specifically, common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and rarer symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting and a runny nose. In severe cases, the disease can progress into a serious pneumonia-like illness — but early on; infected people may show no symptoms at all.

In addition, one of the most circulated myths related to this pandemic on social media is that COVD-19 cannot survive in areas with hot and humid climates. It is also a misleading assumption. From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in all areas, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, it is advisable to adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19.

Further, Taking hot bath is also being propagated as a measure to remain protected from this deadly pathogen (coronavirus). It is also a myth and hence, will not help you cope with corona virus. Normally; body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

To add, another myth that is being widely disseminated that corona virus can be transmitted through mosquito bite. It is also false. To date there has been neither any information nor evidence to suggest that the new corona virus 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. That’s why saying that it may spread through mosquito bite is unfounded.

Another interesting myth is that spraying alcohol or chlorine over your body can kill covid-19. It is totally wrong and ludicrous. 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.

More interesting is the use of onions and garlic to kill the deadly corona virus. Garlic and onions are healthy foods that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that consuming garlic and onions have protected people from the new corona virus.

“Vitamin C supplements can be anti-corona repellents”, like other earlier mentioned myths; it is also being widely propagated. Researchers have yet to find any evidence that vitamin C supplements can render people immune to COVID-19 infection. In fact, for most people, taking extra vitamin C does not even ward off common cold, though it may shorten the duration of a cold if you catch one. That said, vitamin serves essential roles in the human body and supports normal immune function. As an antioxidant, the vitamin neutralizes charged particles called free radicals that can damage tissues in the body. It also helps the body synthesize hormones, build collagen and seal off vulnerable connective tissue against pathogens. So yes, vitamin C should absolutely be included in your daily diet if you want to maintain a healthy immune system. But mega dosing on supplements is unlikely to lower your risk of catching COVID-19, and may at most give you a “modest” advantage against the virus, should you become infected. No evidence suggests that other so-called immune-boosting supplements — such as zinc, green tea or echinacea — help to prevent COVID-19, either.

Moreover, another myth that needs to be debunked is that new corona virus affect only people of old age. In fact, people o f all ages can be affected by the new corona virus.  However, 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. WHO advised people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

“Kids are immune to the new corona virus “. This also amounts to a humongous myth attached with COVID-19. Children can definitely catch COVID-19, though initial reports suggested fewer cases in children compared with adults. For example, a Chinese study from Hubei province released in February found that of more than 44,000 cases of COVID-19, about only 2.2% involved children under age 19.

However, more recent studies suggest children are as likely as adults to become infected. In a study reported March 5, 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, according to Nature News. Regardless of age, about 7% to 8% of contacts of COVID-19 cases later tested positive for the virus.

Inter alia, it is also a myth that antibiotics can prevent you from being effected by COVID-19. Realistically speaking, antibiotics do not work against viruses, but for bacteria. The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, if you are hospitalized for the COV

“Packages from china are not safe”. This too is a popular myth that is being advanced exponentially by the people haunted by coronophobia. However, according to World Health Organization, it is safe to receive letters or packages from China.  The research has found that corona viruses don’t survive long on objects such as letters and packages. Based on what we know about similar corona viruses such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, experts think this new corona virus likely survives poorly on surfaces.

A past study found that these related corona viruses can stay on surfaces such as metal, glass or plastic for as long as nine days, according to a study published Feb. 6 in The Journal of Hospital Infection. But the surfaces present in packaging are not ideal for the virus to survive.

Finally, the funniest myth around corona virus is that if you eat in Chinese restaurant in Pakistan, you would be infected with covid-19.  By that logic, you’d also have to avoid Italian, Korean, Japanese and Iranian restaurants, given that those countries have also been facing an outbreak.

To conclude, we must give up our clinical attitude in dealing with this global contagion since it is the question of our survival as human race. We must act upon the advice given by World Health Organization religiously and adopt preventive measures as suggested; after all, prevention is better than cure…

Abdul Rasool Syed is Advocate cum-columnist based in Quetta. The article has been republished here with author’s permission.