After over 114,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported all over the world, the World Health Organization has raised the alert level for COVID-19 to the highest level. With the virus currently affecting 115 countries and territories and has killed over 4,000 people, the public have been advised to take precautionary measures against the virus, such as limiting overseas travel and avoiding crowds.
As of this writing, the Philippines has confirmed 49 cases of COVID-19 patients, some of whom contracted the virus locally. With the rapid increase of COVID-19 patients, President Duterte has declared a state of public health emergency. Multiple municipalities have also announced a suspension of classes for the whole week, while lawmakers have been appealing to employers to allow their workers to work from home.
These are some of the steps our government is doing to ensure public safety. However, there are some articles and graphics that have been surfacing online about novel ways to treat or prevent COVID-19. The thing is, many of these aren’t true. We should be careful what we read and share because this misinformation could either cause a panic or build a false sense of security, potentially making the outbreak worse. Here are some myths about COVID-19 you shouldn’t believe.
Sun Exposure Won’t Kill COVID-19
One widely circulated post that’s been falsely attributed to UNICEF claims that sun exposure and drinking hot water will kill the virus. Exposing your body to the sun might get you a tan, but it won’t kill the virus. Once it’s in your body, your immune system just has to fight it off. Sun exposure could also lead to dehydration, which won’t help you any.
We would like to inform our audiences that the news below attributed to UNICEF is fake. UNICEF Cambodia is NOT the author of this post. Stay informed by following UNICEF official platforms.
— UNICEF Cambodia (@UNICEFCambodia) March 5, 2020
You won’t get COVID-19 from packages
Don’t be afraid to open packages you’ve received from countries affected by COVID-19 because according to the WHO, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get the virus from these packages. According to the WHO, “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”
However, because the virus may stay on surfaces for seven days, washing your hands immediately after opening the package won’t hurt.
There is no proof that “Miracle Minerals” can cure COVID-19
Some prominent influencers have been tweeting about a miracle mineral supplement can wipe our COVID-19, or singing praises of drinking colloidal silver. But there is no proof of either of these miracle minerals’ products, and because they aren’t FDA-approved, they could cause serious side effects.
Garlic won’t magically prevent COVID-19
We’ve seen a lot of Facebook posts recommending eating garlic to prevent infection. Garlic is a healthy food that has antimicrobial properties, so there’s no harm in following this advice as long as you’re also following official health advisories.
However, you shouldn’t go overboard. One woman in China ate so much raw garlic (1.5 kg!) that it her throat inflamed so badly she couldn’t speak.
Don’t make home-made hand sanitizers
With all the panic buying happening, recipes for home-made sanitizers have been circulating on social media. But the thing is, these recipes often use disinfectants that were formulated for cleaning surfaces, not skin. (Alcohol-based hand gels have emollients that make them gentler on the skin, and have 60-70% alcohol content.)
Using vodka is also no good, because it’s only 40% alcohol. Even the “safest” recipes of aloe vera and isopropyl alcohol are tricky to pull off, because you want to end up with something that’s at least 60% alcohol. Most people don’t understand how the gel and liquid interacts, so even if you tried to do the math, you could end up with something that’s not potent enough.
Again, best way to keep your hands clean is still frequent, thorough handwashing.
Hot and humid weather will not kill COVID-19
Before news of COVID-19 spreading in the Philippines broke out, many people assumed that the reason why the outbreak wasn’t worsening was because our tropical country is too hot and humid for the virus. But it turns out that this is completely wrong. According to the WHO, the virus can (and has) spread to “countries with both hot and humid climates, as well as cold and dry.”
Drinking water every 15 minutes won’t keep you from catching COVID-19
One popular Facebook post claims that a “Japanese doctor” recommends drinking water every 15 minutes to flush out viruses that have entered through the mouth. But this is not how respiratory viruses work. These enter your respiratory tract when you inhale. While some enter your mouth, constantly drinking water isn’t going to prevent you from catching the virus.
However, staying hydrated is typically good advice. (It’s also possible to get overhydrated, which can lead to serious symptoms like seizures and coma.)
Spraying alcohol all over your body can’t kill COVID-19
Once the virus has entered your body, there is no way it can get out. Spraying alcohol all over your body cannot kill the virus. The best way to avoid COVID-19 is by always washing your hands and avoid contact with people who show symptoms of the virus.
Bonus: Handwashing is your best friend
Long story short, check an article/meme’s sources before sharing it, and please wash your hands frequently and carefully!
To find verified news and updates on the coronavirus, visit the WHO’s official website.