Coronavirus in SA: Busting the myths surrounding Covid-19
Cape Town - When a contagious and potentially lethal pathogen is doing the rounds in your city, it’s normal to want to protect yourself from infection in any way that you can.
However, misinformation is being passed around on social media that has people engaging in ill-advised activities, all in the name of avoiding coronavirus infection.
Some are harmless while some are harmful - so here is a list of myths to be aware of if you want to keep yourself safe from Covid-19:
Drinking alcohol will kill the virus inside your body
: Nice try, but just because hand sanitisers are alcohol-based does not mean that drinking booze will protect you from coronavirus. The type of alcohol used in sanitisers is not safe for human consumption. The types of alcohol that are intended for human consumption are not at all effective against the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Rinsing your sinuses or gargling with salt water will protect against infection:
There is limited evidence that a saline nasal rinse can help people recover from the common cold or allergies, but absolutely no evidence that it can protect against infection with the novel coronavirus, says the WHO.
Blow-drying your throat and nose will kill the virus:
A message has done the rounds claiming that blow-drying the inside of your throat will stop the virus from replicating there. Please do not stick a hair dryer in your mouth or nose. Your body’s first defence against a pathogen that you breath in is the mucosal lining of your nose, mouth and throat, which needs to be moist to be healthy.
“Dry, irritated eyes, nasal passages, and mouth make you more susceptible to any respiratory infection because of that lost barrier,” said emergency physician Dr Jill Grimes.
Drinking hot water or bathing in it will kill the virus:
The inside of your body remains the same temperature regardless of whether you are sitting in a steaming bath or slugging back hot liquids, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. These methods will not only fail to kill the virus, but could potentially burn your skin or mouth.
The best thing you could do in a bath is to keep it a safe temperature and use it to wash yourself with soap, which is proven to kill the coronavirus. Spending time in the warm sun will prevent coronavirus - The coronavirus can survive and thrive in temperatures above 25ºC, and you can still catch it no matter how sunny and warm it is, according to the WHO.
But do catch some rays in order to stimulate synthesis of vitamin D in your skin, as it’s important for the health of your immune system.
Eating or drinking garlic, honey, lemon or vitamin C supplements:
They might be delicious and have some antimicrobial properties, but there is no evidence that any of these can protect you against the coronavirus, says the WHO.
5G cell towers cause coronavirus:
Conspiracy theorists have claimed that fifth-generation (5G) technology either causes Covid-19, or that the coronavirus was manufactured in a lab in order to keep people out of the way while 5G towers are installed around the globe. Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has debunked these fears.
“The reality is that 5G is a technology and coronavirus is an organic infection that is based on a living viral agent. The coronavirus is not something that you can link to any technology. We have tracked this virus and we know it comes from animals.”
Furthermore, the international agency responsible for monitoring radiation has declared 5G completely safe for humans.
So what should you be doing in order to protect yourself from becoming infected with Covid-19? You’ve heard it a hundred times before, but the best protection is still to maintain physical distance away from other people and to wash your hands with soap and water.
Don’t stop taking your chronic medications for any other health conditions. The Health Department has appealed especially to HIV-positive people to not suspend their medications during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Do get a flu vaccination, as it will protect you against the influenza virus which also causes many people to fall ill during the upcoming winter season.
There is no magic pill or diet that will instantly boost your immune system, but you can give your body its best chance of fighting off illness by eating a nutritious diet full of fruit and vegetables, drinking plenty of clean water, getting enough sleep, managing stress and exercising.
Remember that it is now a criminal offence to purposefully share fake information about coronavirus - so always check the facts on the WHO website before passing on messages to your friends and family.