Top coronavirus health myths officially debunked

Coronavirus or COVID-19, is not new per se, with scientists knowing of seven that affect humans, four of which most frequently cause symptoms of the common cold. But the strain of coronavirus circulating around the world since late 2019, is new and has proven deadly.

In the past, the world has dealt with two other major coronavirus strains, one being SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2002 which caused an outbreak that lasted about two years and affected around 8,000 people. The second was MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which hit the globe in 2012 and to date, has 2,494 positive cases and 858 deaths.

The most recent SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus of late 2019-2020 has already affected more than a million people with a global death toll in excess of 75,000 and no signs of slowing down. With the third global round of the virus comes numerous cure claims, none of which, officials say, are true.

Current cure myths

In India, people are drinking cow urine to combat the virus claiming “whoever drinks cow urine will be cured and protected,” however, people have been arrested for making these false claims. In Canada, a naturopathic clinic was busted for claiming to have developed a supplement that could prevent or treat COVID-19.

An Arizona man died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate, a chemical used to clean home aquariums after getting the idea from US president Donald Trump who talked about its potential benefits in a televised briefing. His wife was left in critical condition.

The World Health Organization has a page dedicated to coronavirus myth-busting, clarifying claims such as exposing yourself to a hot bath or sunny temperatures will not prevent you from getting the virus. They also say that getting the virus does not mean you will have it for life (this is not a type of HPV) and just because you can hold your breath for 10 or more seconds does not mean you are free from the coronavirus or any other lung disease.

WHO points out that hot humid climates are not immune to the virus, cold weather and snow does not kill it and neither does drinking alcohol. They make it clear that the coronavirus cannot be transmitted via mosquito bites, that hand driers do not kill the virus and that spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will also not kill the new strain of coronavirus.

How long does the coronavirus last on surfaces?

Other myths involving vaccines for phenomena to cure the virus have also been debunked, however, what is true is that the virus can survive on surfaces. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the current SARS-CoV-2 can live on surfaces anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on several factors, one of which is the type of surface.

Dropped onto plastic, approximately half of the viable coronavirus particles were still detectable up to three days later. The virus was able to survive on stainless steel for around 5.6 hours, however on copper, the virus didn’t survive much past four hours. After 24 hours, the virus was not detectable on cardboard.

Do face masks help prevent the spread of coronvirus?

Yes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of a multi-layer cloth mask, even homemade, can help. They say it is best to wear cloth face coverings in public settings such as grocery stores and pharmacies where social distancing is difficult. They also say face masks should not be placed on children under the age of 2 or on anyone who is unconscious or has trouble breathing.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, there are no specific treatments for COVID-19 at this time.