Are you being overloaded with information about coronavirus on all platforms, including social media? It’s popping up everywhere and, although it’s very important to keep up with the facts about coronavirus, how do you know what those facts are?

Part of the reason that coronavirus is causing such a stir in our world is that there is no cure or vaccine for prevent it. It spreads quickly and there is very little that can be done for people who get seriously ill from it other than to ventilate them to help them breathe and give them palliative care in the hopes that their own immune system will protect them. (Palliative care means that you try to make them feel more comfortable as they get better themselves, but you can’t give medicine to make them better.) For most people over-the-counter medicines, such as paracetamol, are recommended. Scientists are working on a vaccine but it takes some time for them to go through the trial period so it is not expected to be ready for another year or 18 months.

When people become desperate, they tend to believe anything that they read or hear that might stop them getting the virus. My own 84-year-old mother told me this week that she had heard that if you take a hair dryer and put it on maximum heat and blow it up for your nostrils for 5 minutes… At which point, I stopped her – I have to admit that I snorted somewhat with laughter – and told her that it was a myth!

Let’s have a look at some of the myths doing the rounds about coronavirus:

MYTH: It won’t spread in hot weather.
FACT: it can and is spreading in all weather conditions.

MYTH: Vaccines for pneumonia will work against Coronavirus.
FACT: Coronavirus COVID-19 is a new disease and scientist are working on a new vaccine.

MYTH: A hot bath prevents coronavirus.
FACT: Your body temperature always stays the same so a hot bath makes no difference.

MYTH: Mosquito bites can spread coronavirus.
FACT: Coronavirus is a respiratory disease spreading from human to human through contact or droplets created by coughing or sneezing.

MYTH: Ultra-violent lamps can kill coronavirus.
FACT: They can’t kill coronavirus and can burn you if you use them to try and sterilise your hands or other body parts.

MYTH: Spraying yourself (or even worse, gargling) with bleach, chlorine or alcohol will kill the virus.
FACT: This will not kill the virus inside your body and will seriously damage your mucous membranes and may be very dangerous to your health.

MYTH: Pets can spread Coronavirus.
FACT: There is no evidence of this.

MYTH: Rinsing your nose with saline will prevent coronavirus.
FACT: There is no evidence of this.

MYTH: Eating garlic will prevent coronavirus.
FACT: There is no evidence that eating garlic has helped people with coronavirus.

MYTH: Only older people get coronavirus.
FACT: People of all ages get coronavirus but elderly people and those with certain pre-conditions tend to suffer more severe symptoms.

MYTH: Antibiotics help to prevent coronavirus.
FACT: Antibiotics do not work against viruses. They only work against bacteria.

MYTH: The virus only affects certain groups.
FACT: The virus affects everyone, wherever they come from. None of us have immunity as it is a new virus.

The world media is also fighting against fake news containing crazy conspiracy theories about coronavirus. No, coronavirus was not started by one country trying to attack another country! Misinformation (wrong information) is also a problem. Someone on Facebook posts the following post “My classmate’s uncle and nephew, graduated with a master’s degree, and work in Shenzhen Hospital. He is being transferred to study Wuhan pneumonia virus. He just called me and told me to tell my friends…” and the post continues with a host of misinformation some of which are myths on our list above. The post then changes as it spreads across the world on Facebook and pretends to come from a professor at Stanford University, a prestigious American University. Most of what is posted in these claims is FALSE so it is fake news. Be very careful about what you share on social media. Only share facts! It seems crazy, but some people like to cause trouble this way. And in fact, in South Africa, it is now a crime to knowingly send misinformation about the virus.

Beware of scams too. One of the ones doing the rounds is that the World Health Organisation is paying people between $5-R100 per day to do work from home related to the virus. A link then sends you to a form, in which you provide some private information. This is a scam. Never send out your personal information unless you are 100% sure that it is real.

South African’s central bank has also warned people that scammers are visiting homes to “recall” banknotes and coins they say are contaminated with coronavirus. The criminals carry fake identification badges and provided false receipts to victims, who are told they could exchange the slips for “clean” cash at any bank.

Be very careful out there. Don’t believe everything you read, especially on social media.

Go to these sites for the facts:
SA Coronavirus site
WHO Coronavirus site

OR call the COVID-19 24-hour hotline number: 0800 029 999

Rumours as misinformation can spread as quickly as the virus itself. So do your bit and only share information that comes from sites such as the ones above.