March 17, 2020 / 4:19 PM / 21 days ago

COVID-19 and the new coronavirus: Fact versus fiction

LONDON (Reuters) - Social media is awash with myths about how people might stop the new coronavirus or treat infection with COVID-19, the disease it causes.

Here some facts to address the fiction:

TRANSMISSION

Fiction:

** The new coronavirus can be spread by mosquito bites and in Chinese food.

Fact:

** No. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus that spreads primarily via droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or breathes out, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

PROTECTION

Fiction:

** Regularly rinsing your nose with saline can prevent infection with COVID-19.

Fact:

** No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people. There is some weak evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline can help some people recover more quickly from the common cold, but it does not prevent respiratory infections.

Fiction:

** Some claims on social media suggest that spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body can protect against COVID-19 infection, or that gargling bleach or drinking excessive amounts of water can somehow “flush it out”.

Fact:

** There is no evidence to back these claims.

** Good hygiene practices including frequent hand washing and avoiding close social contact can help reduce the risk of infection.

Fiction:

** Hand dryers are effective in killing the new coronavirus.

Fact:

** No. Hand dryers are not effective against COVID-19, but frequently cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub, or washing them with soap and water is. Clean hands should be dried thoroughly with a clean towel or air dryer.

Fiction:

** Cold weather, hot weather, snow, eating garlic or taking a hot bath have also been suggested as ways people can prevent themselves becoming infected.

Fact:

** There is no evidence behind these claims and no evidence as yet to suggest that COVID-19 will be affected by weather or the seasons.

** The best way to protect yourself is by washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with anyone who might be infected. This way, you can eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that might occur by touching your eyes, mouth and nose.

Fiction:

** You should wear a face mask at all times when outdoors.

Fact:

** No. People who are healthy, have no symptoms and have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 need to wear a mask if they are taking care of a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.

** Masks are only effective if you are coughing or sneezing - in which case you should be self isolating - and only when used in combination with frequent hand-washing and other hygiene practices.

TREATMENT

Fiction:

** Antibiotics can prevent and treat the new coronavirus,

Fact:

** Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. They will not prevent or treat infection with the new coronavirus.

** There are currently no specific proven medicines for COVID-19 infection, but those infected can relieve and treat mild symptoms with over-the-counter fever-reducing medicines such as paracetamol and aspirin.

Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Mike Collett-White

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