The recent COVID-19 pandemic has closed businesses, cancelled sports, devastated the economy, and shaken up the world in a number of ways.
It has also provided material for the internet’s conspiracy theorists, who have, as always, been believed by an alarming number of people around the world.
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Much of the misinformation seems to stem from the notion that our governments, public health officials, scientists, leading experts, and news media (hi) are lying to the public about coronavirus as part of some nefarious plot, so we figured we’d take a look into some of the most prominent myths to give you and That Uncle something to argue talk about this Thanksgiving.
Luckily for us, the World Health Organization has put together a list of facts to bust some common coronavirus-related myths on account of people actually believing this stuff.
(That Uncle would likely dismiss the World Health Organization as a bunch of hacks and their information as fake news that has been completely disproven by this one article they shared on Facebook, so do keep that in mind when engaging in discourse over the mashed potatoes.)
For those of you who don’t believe yourselves to know better than the world’s leading organization of medical doctors, public health specialists, and experts, please enjoy this list of facts dispelling the most ridiculous myths that the WHO has had to address during the coronavirus pandemic.
FACT: The likelihood of shoes spreading COVID-19 is very low
“The likelihood of COVID-19 being spread on shoes and infecting individuals is very low. As a precautionary measure, particularly in homes where infants and small children crawl or play on floors, consider leaving your shoes at the entrance of your home.
This will help prevent contact with dirt or any waste that could be carried on the soles of shoes.”
FACT: The prolonged use of medical masks* when properly worn DOES NOT cause CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency
“The prolonged use of medical masks can be uncomfortable. However, it does not lead to CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency. While wearing a medical mask, make sure it fits properly and that it is tight enough to allow you to breathe normally. Do not re-use a disposable mask and always change it as soon as it gets damp.
*Medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are flat or pleated; they are affixed to the head with straps or have ear loops.”
FACT: Drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous
“The harmful use of alcohol increases your risk of health problems.”
FACT: There are currently no drugs licensed for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19
“While several drug trials are ongoing, there is currently no proof that hydroxychloroquine or any other drug can cure or prevent COVID-19. The misuse of hydroxychloroquine can cause serious side effects and illness and even lead to death. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop and evaluate medicines to treat COVID-19.”
FACT: Adding pepper to your soup or other meals DOES NOT prevent or cure COVID-19
“Hot peppers in your food, though very tasty, cannot prevent or cure COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is to keep at least one metre away from others and to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. It is also beneficial for your general health to maintain a balanced diet, stay well hydrated, exercise regularly and sleep well.”
FACT: COVID-19 is NOT transmitted through houseflies
“To date, there is no evidence or information to suggest that the COVID-19 virus transmitted through houseflies. The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.
You can also become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands. To protect yourself, keep at least one-metre distance from others and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Clean your hands thoroughly and often and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.”
FACT: Spraying and introducing bleach or another disinfectant into your body WILL NOT protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous
“Do not under any circumstance spray or introduce bleach or any other disinfectant into your body. These substances can be poisonous if ingested and cause irritation and damage to your skin and eyes.
Bleach and disinfectant should be used carefully to disinfect surfaces only. Remember to keep chlorine (bleach) and other disinfectants out of reach of children.”
FACT: Drinking methanol, ethanol or bleach DOES NOT prevent or cure COVID-19 and can be extremely dangerous
“Methanol, ethanol, and bleach are poisons. Drinking them can lead to disability and death. Methanol, ethanol, and bleach are sometimes used in cleaning products to kill the virus on surfaces – however you should never drink them. They will not kill the virus in your body and they will harm your internal organs.
To protect yourself against COVID-19, disinfect objects and surfaces, especially the ones you touch regularly. You can use diluted bleach or alcohol for that. Make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.”
FACT: 5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19
“Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.
COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose.”
FACT: Exposing yourself to the sun or temperatures higher than 25°C DOES NOT protect you from COVID-19
“You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19. To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.”
FACT: Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort DOES NOT mean you are free from COVID-19
“The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness and fever. Some people may develop more severe forms of the disease, such as pneumonia. The best way to confirm if you have the virus producing COVID-19 disease is with a laboratory test. You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous.”
FACT: The COVID-19 virus can spread in hot and humid climates
“The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by maintaining physical distance of at least 1 metre from others and 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.”
FACT: Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the COVID-19 virus
“There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases. The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.”
FACT: Taking a hot bath does not prevent COVID-19
“Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. Your normal 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.”
FACT: The COVID-19 virus CANNOT be spread through mosquito bites
“To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus 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. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.”
FACT: Hand dryers are NOT effective in killing the COVID-19 virus
“Hand dryers are not effective in killing the COVID-19 virus. To protect yourself, frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.”
FACT: Ultra-violet (UV) lamps should NOT be used to disinfect hands or other areas of your skin
“UV radiation can cause skin irritation and damage your eyes.
Cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing your hands with soap and water are the most effective ways to remove the virus.”
FACT: Rinsing your nose with saline does NOT prevent COVID-19
“There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.
There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.”
FACT: Eating garlic does NOT prevent COVID-19
“Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.”
FACT: People of all ages can be infected by the COVID-19 virus
“Older people and younger people can be infected by the COVID-19 virus. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.”
The World Health Organization’s full list of myth-busting facts can be found at their website.