Top 10 Misconceptions of COVID-19

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Crystal Li, Copy Editor

1. The Coronavirus is extremely deadly.

COVID-19 is only deadly for a meager portion of people. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains: “Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.” People who are older or carry harmful health conditions seem to be most at risk of displaying critical symptoms or complications. 

2. Thermal scanners can reliably identify infected people.

Thermal scanners are useful in identifying people who have a fever by seeing whether the individual has a higher than average body temperature. “However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with a fever. This is because it takes between two and ten days before people who are infected become ill and develop a fever,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Moreover, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) concludes that for every 100 infected passengers planning to take a 12-hour flight, only nine will be detected at entrance screening upon landing.

3. Face masks will protect you from COVID-19. 

First of all, it is crucial to acknowledge that the professional face masks used by medical workers are different from disposable face masks. These professional masks fit tightly around the face, which shields doctors or nurses against infection. However, disposable face masks do not fit evenly against the face, and tiny particles can still enter instantly through the material. Nevertheless, if someone has a respiratory disease, wearing a mask can help others from becoming infected by that person. Additionally, there is no reason for anyone to “stock up” on face masks. “Shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients,” said WHO in a report released on March 3. 

4. If you have the coronavirus, you will “feel” it.

Initially, infected individuals might not show any symptoms. COVID-19 has a variety of symptoms, which may also appear in other respiratory diseases such as the flu and common colds. More in-depth, typical symptoms of this virus include having a fever, coughing, and having difficulties with breathing. Other more discreet symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and a runny nose. In mild to moderate cases, there may be unusual symptoms such as the loss of smell and taste. In critical cases, there may be pneumonia-like symptoms.

5. Children cannot catch the virus.

All age groups can catch COVID-19, although initial records illustrated fewer cases in children compared to adults. According to a Chinese study from the province of Hubei published in February showed that within more than 44,000 cases of coronavirus, only approximately 2.2% were children under the age of 19. However, more current investigations are now implying that children are as likely as adults to catch the virus. According to Nature News, a study reported in early March of this year that about 7% to 8% of contacts of COVID-19 cases later tested positive for the virus, regardless of their ages.

6. Packages from China could have coronavirus on them.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is safe to receive letters or packages from China. For a virus to remain active, it needs a blend of particular environmental requirements such as temperature, lack of UV exposure, and humidity- conditions uncommon during shipments. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained, “Because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.” To answer the question about all packages/mails, the New England Journal of Medicine found that the virus can live up to 24 hours on cardboard materials, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel packages. However, according to Joseph Vinetz, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist, the detection of this virus on certain packages does not mean it’s transmissible. 

7. Wear gloves when touching common surfaces to avoid getting infected.

According to Dr. William Schaffner, M.D., a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, wearing gloves is most likely not effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Eventually, the gloves will become contaminated with germs, since you’re still using your gloved hands to touch public surfaces and bringing them into your household or towards those around you. Also, most gloves have microscopic holes that might lead to unsuspected infections or spread. So, no, wearing gloves is not the best way against the coronavirus. Washing your hands with soap and water is still the most efficient solution. 

8. You should stock up on vitamin C.

As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps to defend cells from the harm caused by free radicals, which are compounds developed when our bodies transform the food we consume into energy. This vitamin is crucial for individuals to maintain a healthy immune system. However, researchers have yet to uncover any proof that vitamin C supplements can provide immunity to individuals from COVID-19 infections. In reality, for most people, consuming extra vitamin C supplements does not even “cure” the common cold, even though it may reduce the span of a cold if you catch one. Furthermore, according to Live Science, “No evidence suggests that other so-called immune-boosting supplements — such as zinc, green tea, or echinacea — help to prevent COVID-19, either.”

9. Dogs can spread coronavirus to humans.

Sure, pets can be infected by the virus, but there is no existing evidence that they can spread it to humans. Even though a dog in Hong Kong has been confirmed to have a low-level infection with COVID-19 due to a case of human-to-animal transmission, local Cantonese health officials indicate that “there is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of COVID-19 or that they become sick.” Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated, “…there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.”

10. You could be infected with the coronavirus by eating Chinese food.

No, you won’t.