WHO busts COVID-19 myths

Updated: 12 March, 2020 07:54 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

With the overdose of misinformation floating in cyberspace, 'COVID-19 quick links' tab on homepage of WHO website helps make important distinctions between fact and fiction

A BEST bus conductor wears a mask at work in Sion on Wednesday. According to WHO, only those ill with symptoms or caring for an affected person should wear a mask. Pic/Atul Kamble
A BEST bus conductor wears a mask at work in Sion on Wednesday. According to WHO, only those ill with symptoms or caring for an affected person should wear a mask. Pic/Atul Kamble

The United Nations’s public health body, the World Health Organization (WHO), has launched a ‘COVID-19 quick links’ tab on its website’s homepage to help bust myths and provide FAQs around the outbreak. Here’s what you must keep in mind to maintain your physical, and mental, health.

Transmission through air unlikely
COVID-19 virus is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets expelled while coughing, rather than through air.

Transmission from asymptomatic person unlikely
Those with the disease experience only mild symptoms, particularly at the early stage. Hence, it is possible to contract it from someone with a mild cough.

Antibiotics ineffective
Antibiotics work only on bacterial infections, not viruses. As such, they should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

No prevention method/cure
Some western, traditional or home remedies may only provide comfort and alleviate symptoms. WHO does not recommend self-medication. There are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines.

Not the same as SARS
The COVID-19 virus and the one that caused the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 are related genetically, but the diseases they cause are different. SARS was more deadly but much less infectious.

Mask only for the ill
Wear a mask only if you are ill with symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. There is a world-wide shortage of masks and WHO has urged rational use. The most effective ways of protection are frequently washing hands, covering cough with the bend of the elbow or a tissue, and maintaining a distance of at least 1 meter (three feet) from those coughing or sneezing.

Pets do not spread COVID-19
There is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus.

Packages from affected areas are safe
The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of transmission from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is also low.

Astrology not a cure
Astrologer Raj Kumar Sharma has been receiving frequent calls from people seeking prevention measures, but one must visit the doctor first, not astrologers. Sharma added that one could seek Ayurvedic treatment in case of symptoms — a point mentioned by WHO too — and home remedies such as consuming tulsi, neem leaves and lukewarm water, in addition to the cleanliness regimen.

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First Published: 12 March, 2020 07:50 IST

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