With the globally infamous pandemic that has caused an upsurge since last year, coronavirus has still remained to be quite deadly and fear-provoking. Whether it is as horrific as the media portrays it to be or is as trivial as the common flu, COVID-19 has managed to cripple our confidence and flagrantly stimulate paranoia. Studies have also found that suicide rates went up as people feared they might contract the disease.
With relaxation granted through gradual unlocking, some people are still scared to step out of their houses. This virus has definitely raised cases of paranoia which has been so callously seen in Samir’s cremation case in Kolkata. This gives rise to a very crucial problem of misinformation and myths surrounding COVID-19. The coronavirus situation, especially cases like the abovementioned one, has proven how mishandling of information can lead to paranoia and even violence which further exacerbates the existing situation by adding riots to it.
As people start to move out and restore their lives back to normalcy, it is important to know some of the myths that we believed were empirical facts. So let’s debunk them and feel a little less paranoid!
- COVID-19 is not as serious as the seasonal flu.
Although most cases are mild, the virus still needs to be taken seriously. With its high mortality rate, especially among older citizens and those who are immuno-compromised, people must take the proper precautions and not underestimate the virus’ severity.
- Coronavirus affects only the geriatric population.
People who are elderly or have any pre-existing medical conditions appear to be more susceptible to the virus; however the virus is not just restricted to these specific sections of people. It has been clearly stated by WHO that people of all ages can be prone to contracting the virus and must take proper precautions to protect themselves, irrespective of their age.
- Ordering Chinese products or buying shipped products from China will contaminate the person with coronavirus.
Lack of substantial evidence makes this yet another myth. It has been proven that the novel coronavirus has poor survivability on surfaces, thus making it highly unlikely to be spread via products or packages that take over a period of days to get delivered.
- Social distancing is not meant for the healthy ones.
This is completely false. It does not matter if you are healthy or not, social distancing is absolutely pivotal for your health. With asymptomatic cases existing, even if you are healthy you can still be a carrier of the virus. You not only increase your risk of contracting the disease but also may spread it to others who may be at a higher risk for severe illness. Hence, social distancing is both an individual and community service.
- Wear masks while exercising.
Wearing masks while exercising is a big no-no. While doing heavy lifting or strenuous exercise, masks reduces our ability to breathe comfortably. The sweat makes the mask wetter which promotes the growth of microorganisms. So lose the medical mask, and maintain physical distance while exercising.
- Prolonged use of medical masks causes oxygen deficiency.
If this was true, imagine what would have happened to surgeons! Wearing medical masks can definitely feel uncomfortable, but it surely does not cause either oxygen deficiency or carbon dioxide intoxication. Make sure your mask is tight enough to help you breathe comfortably. It is also necessary to change your mask as soon as it gets damp.
- Shoes spread the COVID-19 virus.
Before you gasp in shock, let me tell you that it is just a myth. The likelihood of the virus getting spread through shoes is negligible. However, be mindful of leaving your shoes at the entrance of your homes as it can prevent any contact with dirt that could be stuck to the soles of your shoes.
- Coronavirus surely leads to death.
This is one of the biggest myths that have caused a wave of anxiety, depression and stress. For once and for all get this faulty thought out of your system. Coronavirus DOES NOT guarantee death. Most people infected by the disease who show mild or moderate symptoms can recover with supportive care. It is necessary to get early medical care which can curb the virus from spreading and worsening. The key is to not panic!
- Alcohol consumption protects you against COVID -19.
Do not believe this myth and use it as an excuse to drink! Drinking alcohol not only unprotects you from COVID-19 but also causes various other harmful health problems. Drinking in high amounts not only causes physiological problems like liver cirrhosis, it can also lead to psychological malfunctions like alcohol dependency. This further might lead to familial conflicts as well as unemployment.
- Thermal scanners can detect COVID-19.
Thermal scanners are highly inconclusive with respect to detecting coronavirus. It is true that thermal scanners can detect high temperature (fever) but that does not necessarily mean that the detected has COVID. There can be various other reasons for fever like a normal cold or malaria, and jumping to COVID as its sole reason might often be baseless.
- Rinsing your nose regularly with saline help prevent the virus.
No. There is absolutely no empirical evidence to support this statement, making it yet another one of our myths. There is some limited evidence showing that rinsing your nose with saline regularly can help you recover quickly from the common cold, but as of now this practice has not been proven to prevent respiratory infections.
- Coronavirus can spread to humans from their pets.
Although coronavirus has been proven to be a zoonotic virus, pets do not cause viral infection in humans through direct contact. With less evidence present, it makes the risk of the virus getting spread from pets to animals low.
- Pneumonia vaccines can protect against coronavirus.
Pneumonia vaccinations or antibiotics cannot cure coronavirus. Research is still in the process with the hope of a possible effective drug soon to be available in the markets.
- Regularly taking a bath in warm water protects from COVID-19.
Bathing every day in warm water does not protect you from the virus. The best way to shield yourself from the novel virus is to wash your hands properly and regularly, maintain physical distance, wear medical masks, and also by disinfecting objects around you frequently. But please do not stop bathing regularly, for your hygiene’s sake!
- Hand sanitizers work better than soap and water against COVID-19.
It is necessary to carry a hand sanitizer when you are out as we cannot carry soap, but whenever possible, washing hands with soap and water keep you safer and healthier. Soap and water can actually kill and wash off the soiling of hands. However, do not forget to carry an alcohol-based sanitizer while traveling. Hand sanitizers with 60% alcohol content have the ability to kill viruses is a fact and not a myth.
- Mosquito bites can transmit COVID-19.
Due to lack of scientific proof and cases, this can only be classified as a myth. Since coronavirus is a respiratory virus, it can primarily be transmitted through an infected person’s coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.
At an age where social media has become a popular platform for reading and sharing news, it often becomes a task in differentiating between what’s real and what’s not. Hence, it is important to do your research and be aware of the sources of your information. Misinformation can very well be detrimental to people’s health.
Being afraid is a normal reaction to uncertainty but it should not live within us and feed off us.
I am a psychology major with an undying thirst for music, movies, books, dancing, and ofcourse binging on Netflix! I am a logophile and have an insatiable hunger for writing. I am also an addict of Parapsychology and Criminal Psychology. I love to travel and am the perfect personified example of the term ‘wanderlust’.