Dr Faheem Younus, Chief Quality Officer and Chief of Infectious Diseases, University of Maryland UCH has busted some common myths plaguing the people during the coronavirus pandemic.
Yes, the coronavirus outbreak is rapidly spreading and has claimed over 16,558 lives worldwide. While the virus can be contained if appropriate measures are implemented such as ‘social distancing’, what is more alarming is the amount of misinformation and false news rife surrounding the spread of the virus.
A United States based doctor has penned down a helpful thread on Twitter that debunks myths related to the CovID-19 pandemic.
Myth 1 : Coronavirus will go away in the summer.
Tackling the first myth Dr Younus states: “Previous pandemics didn’t follow weather patterns,” moreover, the virus has spread globally, which means while the northern hemisphere enters summer, the southern Hemisphere will have winter, so the virus is not going to disappear with seasonal changes.
So I’m hearing many myths about #COVID-19 and would like to quickly clear the record.— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) March 17, 2020
Coronavirus will go away in Sumer months.
Wrong. Previous pandemics didn’t follow weather patterns plus as we enter summer, there will be winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Virus is global.
In a following tweet on 21st March, he highlighted that previous pandemics such as the Spanish Flu (1918), Asian Flu (1957), SARS (20020 and H1N1 Flu (2009) had lasted for one to four years. “This one (coronavirus) isn’t going away just because of the warm months ahead,” he added.
A Thread: Why the COVID-19 pandemic will take >months and what can we learn from trees?— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) March 20, 2020
Look at the blooming trees. But recall how they persevere a harsh winter, every year.
Previous pandemics lasted 1-4 years. This one isn’t going away just because of the warm months ahead. pic.twitter.com/hrqZnhmFuT
Myth 2: The virus will spread because of mosquitoes in summer.
The doctor refutes the rumour because COVID-19 is not a vector borne disease, the virus spreads through respiratory droplets, mosquitoes don’t harbor the virus.
Myth #2: In summer, the virus will spread more due to mosquito bites.— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) March 17, 2020
Wrong. This infection is spread via respiratory droplets, not blood. Mosquitos don’t increase spread.
Myth 3: “If you can hold your breath for ten seconds without discomfort, you don’t have COVID.”
The ability to hold your breath depends on your age and lung capacity. Dr Younus denies the above myth adding that “most young patients with Coronavirus will be able to hold their breaths for much longer than 10 seconds. And many elderly without the virus won’t be able to do it.”
Myth 4: The blood bank will test your donated blood for coronavirus
Dr Younus makes it clear that since no blood bank is testing for coronavirus, there is no point in donating blood in that manner.
He adds: “Blood donation is a sacred exercise; let’s make sure we are motivated by the right reasons.”
Myth #4: Since COVID testing is unavailable, we should donate blood. The blood bank will test for it.— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) March 17, 2020
No blood bank is testing for Coronavirus so this attempt will fail. Blood donation is a sacred exercise; let’s make sure we are motivated by the right reasons.
Myth 5: Drinking lots of water will flush the coronavirus that lives in the throat into the stomach, where the acid will kill it.
Refuting the claim, Dr Younus clarified that although the virus may enter via the throat, it just doesn’t hang around for you to wash away. It seeps into the host cells, drinking excess water “will make you run to the toilet.”
Myth 6: Social Distancing is overrated.
With the virus rapidly spreading across communities, the lesser we come in to contact with people the better,
In a separate tweet, drawing a parallel between trees and human lives, the doctor explained: “Shutdowns and other extreme measures of SD have an economic/social cost. But losing money = losing leaves; we can get it back.
“Losing people = losing the tree; it’s gone forever.”
He urged the people to support shutdowns and social distancing in a bid to tackle the virus.
4/10: Shutdowns and other extreme measures of SD have an economic/social cost. But losing money = losing leaves; we can get it back. Losing people = losing the tree; it’s gone forever. Let's not fight shutdowns; instead, help the less fortunate among us and remain focused. pic.twitter.com/ZKQvrRIKHW— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) March 20, 2020
Myth 7: “Car accidents kill 30,000 people annually. What’s the big deal with COVID-19?”
He highlighted the fundamental difference between car accidents and the virus in that “car accidents are not contagious, their fatalities don’t double every three days, they don’t cause mass panic or a market crash.”
On the other hand, mincing no words he warned “Despite all efforts, # of US coronavirus cases may cross 50,000 in March/April,” impacting healthcare, supply chains, businesses, and the economy.”
Still, he advised people to remain calm and patient and refrain from hitting the panic button.
Myth 8: “Hand sanitizers are better than soap and water.”
With sanitizer stocks running dry at most chemists, supermarkets and retailers, Dr Yonus cleared the air stating that soap and water are equally good at cleaning your hands because the virus cannot penetrate skin cells, so a disinfectant is not vital, a soap water combination can effectively wash the virus off.
Myth 9: “One of the best strategies to prevent COVID-19 is to clean every door knob in your home with disinfectants.”
According to Dr Younus and other experts washing hands and maintaining a 6 ft distance from another person are good enough. You only have to disinfect your home surfaces and knobs if you’re caring for a COVID patient.
Myth #9: One of the best strategies to prevent COVID-19 is to clean every door knob in your home with disinfectants.— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) March 17, 2020
Wrong. Hand washing/maintaining 6ft distance is best practice. Unless you’re caring for a COVID patient at home, your home surfaces should not be a big risk.
Myth 10: “Avoid shipped packages/gas pumps/shopping carts/ATMs or you’ll die.”
He clarified that the hysteria was overrated because the virus thriving on the surface and that surface infecting a person is not proportional. He simply advised to “wash your hands and live your life.”
Myth 11: “You can catch COVID-19 from ordering takeout food/Chinese food (or the packaging of food).”
Just as mosquitoes can’t spread coronavirus, he clarified that COVID-19 is not a food-borne infection.
2/10: You can catch COVID-19 from ordering takeout food/Chinese food (or the packaging of food).— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) March 22, 2020
COVID-19 is a droplet related infection (like flu) not a food-borne infection (like salmonella etc.). There is no documented COVID risk with take-out food.
Myth 12: A 20-minute sauna bath can kill 90% of viruses including the coronavirus.
He disproved the claim and in fact warned that saunas could lead to other bacterial infections such as pneumonias, folliculitis, etc.
Myth 13: COVID impacts sense of smell
Losing sense of smell is a common complaint with a number of viral infections/allergies, there is no correlation with the COVID alone, the doctor explained.
4/10: If you lose your sense of smell, you have COVID.— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) March 22, 2020
It’s common to temporarily lose one’s sense of smell with many viral infections/allergies. It’s a non-specific symptom that may or may not happen with COVID. https://t.co/Z2fzZrkEA7
Myth 14: One should start taking hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to remain COVID free
Dr Younus debunked the myth warning that the drug therapy is still experimental and should be consumed under medical supervision only by selected COVID patients because the drugs are known to cause fatal heart complications and other side effects.
Myth 15: “Garlic/lemon with hot water/onion in the room will prevent or cure COVID-19.”
Consuming hot water and lemon, garlic or onions are popular remedies recommended by alternative medicine. However, Dr Younus said: “None of these substances have been scientifically tested against COVID.”
6/10: I receive messages that using garlic/lemon with hot water/onion in the room will prevent or cure COVID-19. Is it true?— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) March 22, 2020
No, it’s just made up stuff.
None of these substances have been scientifically tested against COVID. Don’t share such posts; they create confusion.
Myth 16: Since the government has declared a state of emergency, everyone is going to die.
To quell the paranoia, he wrote: “The state of emergency is more of a legal than a medical standard. It allows governments to access more resources and personnel.”
Advising people against going overboard and spreading fear, he concluded encouraging people to hang in there, “Good luck all. We shall cross this bridge together.”
Share this list of common myths to help people with the right information.
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