Alongside the COVID-19 pandemic comes what the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling an “infodemic” -- an overwhelming amount of information about the virus being shared widely on the web and social media. While some of this information is accurate, a lot of it completely false. For most of us, this leads to a lot of confusion and uncertainty during an already stressful time. It’s important that we as a society keep a clear mind about what’s going on, and that we obtain our facts and information from reliable, credible sources, like WHO and the CDC.
The World Health Organizations breaks down some of the common “myths” surrounding the novel coronavirus, that you’ve likely noticed on you own social media feed.
COVID-19 cannot survive in warm climates: False
According to recent evidence, the novel coronavirus can be transmitted in areas of varying climates, even where it is typically hot and humid. The World Health Organization urges people to adopt protective measures if you live in or travel to any area that has been affected by COVID-19.
Hand dryers and UV lamps are effective in killing COVID-19: False
Good hand hygiene is crucial all-year round, but especially so during this time. Frequently cleaning hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) or soap and water is recommended. Although hand dryers are fine to use in lieu of paper towels after hand washing, they should not be used as a substitute. Same goes for UV lamps/lights – which can also cause skin irritation.
Eating lots of garlic can help prevent infection: False
While research has shown that garlic is healthy and may contain some antimicrobial properties, there is no new evidence showing that it protects people from the novel coronavirus effectively.
Antibiotics are not effective in treating COVID-19: True
Because COVID-19 is a virus, and not a bacterial infection, antibiotics unfortunately cannot be used for prevention or treatment. They may be administered to patients admitted to the hospital who may be dealing with other comorbidities, but, the WHO is currently focusing their efforts on research on antiviral medications to soon be used for treatment.
A face-mask will protect you from COVID-19: False
It is recommended (and important) that surgical face masks and N-95 respirators be worn by healthcare workers as they care for infected and potentially infected patients. However, the general public is not recommended to wear surgical masks to prevent infection. People with an existing respiratory illness may wear one in order to prevent infecting others, but stocking up on these masks means there will be fewer available for patients and health care workers that really need them.
For more answers to your questions go to the Centers of Disease Control at CDC.gov or the World Health Organization at who.int and do your best not to spread misinformation. It’s up to all of us to do our part in every way we can.
Posted March 2020
The above content is provided for educational purposes by Tufts Medical Center. It is free for educational use. For information about your own health, contact your physician.