Bridie Adams sets the record straight, correcting some of the common myths surrounding COVID-19
With the peak of coronavirus having passed, lockdown restrictions are easing. At this point in the pandemic there’s a risk of becoming a little less cautious and paying a little less attention to government guidelines. However, it’s still important to protect ourselves and others from the virus. With myths and rumours spreading around the internet and particularly social media so quickly, it’s time to dispel some of this false information.
Myth 1 – Garlic protects you from coronavirus
Garlic has got some antimicrobial properties, is good for the immune system, and can help strengthen your body to fight off viral infections. However, there is no evidence to suggest that garlic can provide any substantial protection against coronavirus. If you eat a healthy diet your immune system may be stronger but this does not eliminate your risk of catching coronavirus.
Myth 2 – You should stockpile hand sanitiser to kill germs
The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus is to wash your hands frequently, but you should not stockpile soap or hand sanitiser. Stockpiling or panic buying any product is damaging because it leaves shops with shortages, which can cause prices to rise. This makes products, especially hygiene ones, less accessible for other people that need them. Remember that to slow the spread of coronavirus everyone needs to have clean hands, not just you!
Myth 3 – Coronavirus can be cured with antibiotics, or other existing medicines and vaccines
COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacteria, so it can’t be cured with antibiotics. Some people believe that vaccines against pneumonia can protect you from coronavirus, but there is no evidence to support this. At the moment, there is no vaccine for coronavirus, though trials to find one are occurring. Dexamethasone has recently been shown to reduce mortality in hospitalised patients requiring oxygen or who are on ventilation.
Myth 4 – Hot and cold temperatures can protect you from coronavirus
Exposing yourself to hot temperatures, whether weather-related or by having a hot bath or drinking hot drinks, cannot prevent you from catching coronavirus. There is also no evidence to suggest that cold weather like snow can protect you from the virus. COVID-19 is not restricted by temperature or weather.
Myth 5 – You must buy a face mask to wear when leaving the house
You can wear a face mask when you leave the house, for example to go to the shop, if it makes you feel safer and more comfortable. However, this is not a requirement. It’s worth noting masks work more to prevent you potentially spreading the virus than to protect you from catching it. In England, you are required to wear a face mask only on public transport (this is recommended but not required in Scotland and Wales) and in hospitals and it’s advised you wear one in situations where social distancing is compromised. You should also be cautious of where you source your face masks as there have been online scams in which fraudsters take money for fake or non-existent masks.
Myth 6 – If you don’t have a cough, you don’t have coronavirus
You can be carrying coronavirus and be asymptomatic. You can also be carrying coronavirus and have other symptoms, like a high temperature, but not a cough. If you don’t have a cough it doesn’t mean you don’t have coronavirus. If you are not short of breath or are able to hold your breath, it doesn’t mean you don’t have coronavirus. Be careful and self-isolate if you have any symptoms of the virus.
Myth 7 – Only older people can catch coronavirus
Elderly people are more likely to die or be critically ill from coronavirus, but you can catch it at any age. You’re less likely to have severe symptoms if you’re young, unless you have an underlying health condition. However, you can carry the disease no matter your age.
Remember, the best way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus is to keep a safe distance from those outside your household and to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly. Consult reliable sources like the World Health Organization (WHO) or the NHS to find more information about coronavirus. Make sure to check your facts to stay safe.