The Internet is renowned for its spread of misinformation disguised as fact. While it may look and sound real, it’s not always backed by scientific evidence.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already labelled the spread of such information as an “infodemic”, and are doing everything they can to debunk incorrect information and conspiracy theories around COVID-19.
Instead of inciting fear and encouraging sensationalised information, we thought we would compile a list of common myths circulating the Internet, which have been debunked by experts in the field.
It’s important to note that by following government and health guidelines around social distancing and self-isolating, we can stop the curve. We’re all in this together.
MYTH: Coronavirus is a man-made virus
Before we break it down for you, it’s important to note that COVID-19 is not a man-made virus. Despite the various reports you’ve read on the Internet, there is no credible evidence to support such a claim.
You may have read the theory that a Chinese lab has been working on a bioweapon that got leaked. Scientists in China and the West have vehemently denied such claims.
While experts have debunked myths that the virus is man-made, they are still trying to figure out the exact origin of the virus, but hypothesise that it likely originated in bats and was transmitted to an intermediate host before jumping to people. This was also the case for the 2003 SARS epidemic.
MYTH: It only affects the elderly and those with underlying health issues
While those who are not elderly and do not have underlying health conditions are unlikely to become critically ill from COVID-19, the illness does have a higher chance of leading to more serious respiratory symptoms than the seasonal flu.
It’s also important to note the significance of young people abiding by social distancing regulations and quarantine instructions to protect the most vulnerable members of our community, and in shaping the overall trajectory of the outbreak.
In other words, while young people may be less likely to become critically ill, they can just as easily spread the virus to others without even realising they are infected.
Social distancing breaks the chain of transmission.
MYTH: Heat can kill Coronavirus
You may have read some theories online that hand dryers can kill the virus. However, the World Health Organisation have debunked this myth, stating: “Exposing yourself to the sun or to temperatures higher than 25C degrees DOES NOT prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)”.
WHO have also specified that UV lamps shouldn’t be used to sterilise hands or other areas of the body as radiation can irritate skin.
President Donald Trump has stated that heat can kill the virus, and as a result, the current outbreak will dissipate soon, but public health experts claim there is no evidence to back such a claim.
MYTH: Drinking alcohol can protect you against COVID-19
We don’t know where this myth originated, but it’s downright untrue.
Frequent or excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of health problems, not decrease them. Consequently, there is zero evidence suggested that consuming alcohol can prevent coronavirus.
After all, too much alcohol impacts your immune system.
MYTH: If you get the coronavirus, you will die
The death rate for the virus is currently estimated to be 1.4 per cent overall.
Symptoms of coronavirus include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, headache and a fever that can last for a couple of dates. Many of these symptoms will go away on their own.
However, those with a weakened immune system, the elderly and the very young may have more serious symptoms, which include pneumonia or bronchitis. While 1.4 per cent doesn’t sound like much, it is still a worrying percentage given the thousands of people infected and the struggle in containing the virus.
But, after all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
MYTH: Children can’t get coronavirus
Unfortunately, this is a myth.
While the virus has serious consequences for older people and those with underlying health conditions, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention state that children can be affected too.
“Children will undoubtedly get infected but the probability that they will come to serious grief from this seems very low,” said Peter Collignon, professor of infectious diseases at the Australian National University medical school.
MYTH: If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing, you are free from COVID-19
The World Health Organisation state that being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort does not mean you are free from the virus or any other lung disease.
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 in some cases, can be dangerous.