Fake stories about COVID-19

Drinking bleach?
Bleach as medicine: fake news
Fake news: Trump was being
Fake news about the coronavirus
Fake news: Chlorine kills COVID-19
Fake news: Antibiotics effective in preventing infection
Fake news: Coronavirus spreads over long distances through the air
Fake news: Coronavirus dies in ultraviolet light
Fake news: Coronavirus is transmitted through coins and bills
Fake news: Rinsing the nose with salt water prevents coronavirus
Fake news: Sesame oil prevents infection of coronavirus
Fake news: Coronavirus only affects older people
Fake news: Eating garlic prevents COVID-19 infection
Fake news: Pneumonia vaccine protects against coronavirus
Fake news: Coronavirus is transmitted through mosquito bites
Fake news: Cold and snow kills the coronavirus
Fake news: coronavirus has a reach of up to 8 meters
Fake news: It's not safe to receive a package from China
Fake news: Children's urine protects against coronavirus
Fake news: Masks can be reused
Fake news: Cocaine protects against coronavirus
Fake news: Pets spread the coronavirus
Fake news: You can kill the coronavirus with a hand dryer
Drinking bleach?

In April 2020, hospitals in the United States noted a sudden increase of people who had gotten sick after drinking or injecting disinfectants such as household bleach. They had followed up on the suggestion of American president Donald Trump that bleach kills the coronavirus instantly and therefore might be taken as medicine. 

Bleach as medicine: fake news

The president said that disinfectant "knocks out" the virus when used on surfaces. "Is there a way," he reasoned, "we can do something, by an injection inside or almost a cleaning? It does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it'd be interesting to check that."

Fake news: Trump was being "sarcastic"

The next day, after health experts sounded the alarm to warn people that it is not safe to swallow or inject bleach, the president revoked his statement, saying it had just been "sarcastic."

Fake news about the coronavirus

There are many more rumours and incorrect news stories circulating about the coronavirus. To warn the public against disinformation, the World Health Organization (WHO) drew up a list of the most common fake stories about COVID-19. 

Fake news: Chlorine kills COVID-19

Trump was not the first to talk about the healing powers of chlorine or disinfectant. Rumours have circulated that spraying the body with chlorine or alcohol kills the coronavirus. It doesn't. "Spraying these substances can damage clothing and mucous membranes," warns the WHO. You should ony use them to disinfect objects and follow the safety instructions on the products' labels. 

Fake news: Antibiotics effective in preventing infection

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating coronavirus infection? The WHO says clearly: NO. "Antibiotics are effective against bacteria, but not against viruses." Since the coronavirus is a virus, antibiotics should not be used to prevent or treat infection. "However, if you are infected with the virus and are hospitalized, you may be given antibiotics to prevent additional bacterial infections".

 

Fake news: Coronavirus spreads over long distances through the air

The virus travels mainly through droplets that are generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and also through saliva droplets or nasal secretions. "And these droplets are too heavy to spread over long distances," the WHO reminds us.

Fake news: Coronavirus dies in ultraviolet light

The WHO warns that "ultraviolet lamps should not be used to sterilize the hands or other parts of the body." What's more, ultraviolet radiation can cause skin irritation.

Fake news: Coronavirus is transmitted through coins and bills

According to the WHO, the risk of getting infected by the coronavirus through coins, banknotes or credit cards is very low. However, the virus can survive for a few hours (or a little longer) on a surface if an infected person coughs or sneezes on it or touches it. "The best protection is to wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based disinfectant or soap and water," the WHO says.

 

Fake news: Rinsing the nose with salt water prevents coronavirus

Although some evidence indicates that rinsing the nose on a regular basis with a saline solution can "speed up recovery from a common cold," in the case of the coronavirus it doesn't. "This practice has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections," the WHO declares.

Fake news: Sesame oil prevents infection of coronavirus

Nope, applying sesame oil to the skin does not prevent the coronavirus from entering our body, nor does it directly kill the virus. The WHO says that there are "chemical disinfectants that, when applied to surfaces, can kill the virus, such as bleach or chlorine-based disinfectants, some solvents, 75% ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform." But, watch out, they should not be applied to the skin, only to other objects. "They can damage the skin and the nose." 

Fake news: Coronavirus only affects older people

The coronavirus can affect people of any age. The WHO adds that it can be more harmful for older people who also suffer from other diseases (asthma, diabetes or heart disease). They are "more likely to become seriously ill when they become infected." Therefore, you should try to prevent your infection in order to protect the more vulnerable people around you.

Fake news: Eating garlic prevents COVID-19 infection

Through some media and social networks the idea has spread that eating garlic can help prevent infection with the coronavirus. But this is not true. "Although it is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties," the WHO says, "there is no evidence that eating it protects anyone against the virus that is causing the current outbreak."

Fake news: Pneumonia vaccine protects against coronavirus

The pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine do not protect you against the coronavirus. Yet, "although pneumonia vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV," the WHO says, "it is highly recommendable to be vaccinated against respiratory diseases to maintain good health."

Fake news: Coronavirus is transmitted through mosquito bites

The coronavirus is spread mainly by contact with infected people "through respiratory droplets" that are generated when they cough or sneeze. "There is no evidence, to date, that the coronavirus can be transmitted by mosquitoes," WHO says.

Fake news: Cold and snow kills the coronavirus

This is a widespread rumour that the WHO denies. "The normal temperature of the human body is maintained at around 36.5 and 37 degrees, regardless of weather conditions. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that cold can kill the coronavirus or wipe out other diseases."

Fake news: coronavirus has a reach of up to 8 meters

Some people think that the coronavirus can reach up to 8 meters from a person who coughs or sneezes. However, this is false. "Respiratory droplets can reach up to one meter away from a person who coughs or sneezes," the WHO states.

Fake news: It's not safe to receive a package from China

The coronavirus does not survive for a long time in or on objects like letters and parcels. Therefore, the WHO says, there is no risk of contracting the virus by receiving a package from China.

Fake news: Children's urine protects against coronavirus

This is false. Neither viruses nor bacteria are killed by children's urine. In fact, the WHO warns that this urine can contain "small amounts of viral or bacterial material" itself.

Fake news: Masks can be reused

According to the WHO, masks (including flat-fitting and N95 filtering masks) should not be reused. Even less so when you have been in close contact with a COVID-19-infected person. "The front of the mask is considered contaminated. To remove it, do not touch the front of the mask. Dispose of it properly and wash your hands with a hydroalcoholic gel or soap and water," the WHO instructs.

Fake news: Cocaine protects against coronavirus

The WHO is clear on this point: "Cocaine cannot protect against the coronavirus. It is a stimulating and addictive drug, and its use causes serious side effects that are harmful to people's health."

Fake news: Pets spread the coronavirus

There is no proof that the coronavirus infects animals like dogs or cats. The WHO recommends that you habitually wash your hands with soap and water after touching them, but not because of coronavirus. Instead, you should do it to "protect yourself from common bacteria that can be transmitted to humans, such as E. coli and salmonella."

Fake news: You can kill the coronavirus with a hand dryer

Hand dryers do not kill the coronavirus. The WHO again insists that you wash your hands "frequently" with a hydroalcoholic gel or soap and water. "Once clean, dry them well with paper towels or a hot air dryer." But the washing has to go first. 

 

Read also: how to prevent infection with the coronavirus.

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