Myths About COVID-19 Can Be Dangerous

You have undoubtedly heard some rumours about how you can protect yourself from the COVID-19 Coronavirus that might have seemed a little bit suspect; such as egg whites on your face or that eating bananas will protect you. Not surprisingly; they won’t. But these rumours can be tempting as any possible protection would be. The trouble is some people are believing them and that makes them dangerous. Here are some common ones you may find and why they aren’t true.

1: Drinking Hot Water with Lemons.

This one comes with a Facebook post and a video with a robotic voice-over that both cite the expert advice of Chinese researcher Jiao Shenme Minzi. The first clue is his name, which can roughly be translated from Mandarin into “What is your name.” Minzi doesn’t appear to exist, nor does the university where he purportedly works. 

The video then claims that lemon in hot water “destroys the virus and cures the flu.” And attributes this to Prof. Chen Horin at the Beijing Military Hospital. An institution of that exact name does not appear to exist, and neither does Horin. Without going any further into the science it’s easy to see that this is not true. Hot lemon water will not protect you from the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

2: You Can Steam the Virus Out of You.

Another Facebook video featuring a man whose page identifies him as a sound technician and songwriter. He urges people to boil water in a pot with sea salt and citrus peels, then inhale the steam from it for 15 to 20 minutes. There are other videos encouraging the same to be found on various platforms as well.

This one is a little tricky; there’s a thought that you might be able to disinfect surfaces with steam. But can you disinfect yourself? That’s where this one is a bit of a bust. While you might treat some symptoms with a treatment like this the kind of heat required to eliminate the virus would do serious damage to your systems; not to mention it would only get the virus where it can reach, not clean out your system. Again; a false claim that could be dangerous.

3: You Can Make Your Own Medical Grade Mask.

When it comes to Do-It-Yourself or DIY, there are some which can be very beneficial. However, one 20-minute-long instruction on turning a bra into a supposed N95 mask that’s been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, is possibly not the best. It was made by a woman who has dozens of other videos on recipes, dieting and beauty tips and she claims at one point that “Natural materials like cotton and wool naturally repel viruses. I had to find that out on the internet!” There is no evidence that this is true.

Beyond that; while you might be able to make effective masks at home, you’re not going to turn a bra into a medical grade mask.

The WHO does say there are situations and ways in which masks might be useful; but only when used properly. If misused then all you are doing is wearing an item on your face which could carry the virus along with you.

4: Holding Breath for 10 Seconds Without Coughing Proves No Coronavirus.

Since it began there has been an idea floating about that you can tell if you have the COVID-19 Coronavirus by holding your breath for 10 seconds. If you don’t cough then you don’t have the virus. This is dangerously untrue. The simple truth is that not everyone infected has symptoms of the virus, and that many with it will be able to do this test without issue. It’s also true that some without the virus won’t be able to hold their breath for 10 seconds without coughing for various other reasons.

5. Drinking Warm Water or Gargling with Salt Water Will Protect You.

A chain email is going around attributing a list of things you can do to protect yourself — like drink warm water every 20 minutes and gargle with salt water — to a friend of a friend who is “connected in China health care.” According to this email unblocking your airways by drinking will keep you safe.

Again, while this might assist with some symptoms it will not protect you from the virus nor cure you of it. It is a false claim.

It’s easy to want these bits of advice to be true. We want to feel safe and be able to return to some semblance of our normal lives with some quick fix; but that’s not how this works. And if you try to do that you’re going to be dangerous to yourself and those around you.

So how do you tell if a piece of information you find online is true? Here are some quick tips on evaluating information.

  • Pause: Before you hit share and start putting the idea into practice, take a moment to google it.
  • Whose claim is it?: Does the information come from a reputable source? If this is coming from a friend of a friend maybe take a closer look at it. Even if it is coming from the media you might want to double check the information provided.
  • Is this real science? If the information cites a medical professional or other authority then you should look up anyone mentioned. A quick google search can help tell you if that person even exists. If the professional is unnamed it’s probably not true.
  • Too Good to be True: If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. If there were a simple solution to these problems then everyone would know about it and be putting it into practice. It’s unlikely that something simple is being missed by the billions of people this is affecting.

If there are any advancements in protective measures or treatments which can help you at home be assured you will hear about it from all sources. You’ll even find it posted on this website and shared for all to hear. In the meantime please do your best to follow the advised practices; Proper cleansing of yourself and your home surfaces, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, keep practicing social or physical distancing and remaining at home. We’ll get through this together.

Source: CBC News.

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