Coronavirus: Debunking myths and misinformation

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Just like the virus itself, misinformation about the coronavirus, too, has the potential to spread rapidly.

It’s bad enough that the World Health Organization called the spread of coronavirus myths an “infodemic” — their word for “an excessive amount of information about a problem that makes it difficult to identify a solution.”

Here’s a look at some of the myths that health officials worldwide have been addressing since the outbreak.

Myth 1 — Masks are an effective coronavirus prevention tool

If you’re healthy, officials with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention say you shouldn’t be wearing a mask. Not only are masks not that effective at preventing the transmission of the virus, but healthy people purchasing masks leads to shortages — which then negatively impacts people who need them for other, legitimate health reasons. In fact, according to the the WHO, shortages of supplies like masks and face shields put healthcare workers at risk if they don’t have the supplies to protect themselves. WHO estimates that each month, 89 million medical masks will be required — as well as 76 million examination gloves, and 1.6 million goggles.

Myth 2 — You can get the virus from mail packages shipped from China

Not likely. Per the CDC, the virus doesn’t survive well on surfaces — transmission typically happens via respiratory droplets. So far, there haven’t been any coronavirus cases from imported goods in the United States. That same principle applies to food — you’re not likely to get coronavirus from packaged, frozen or shipped foods either.

Myth 3 — People who get the coronavirus should be immediately hospitalized

Carle Foundation Hospital Infection Prevetionist Casey Benson said many people who get the coronavirus experience “mild” symptoms that don’t require hospitalization. That said, the virus is still serious: while the death rate for the seasonal flu is less than 1 percent, the death rate for the coronavirus is around 3.4 percent, according to the WHO. As always, the health risks of the disease depend on an individual’s health.

Myth 4 — A cure exists in some form

Maybe you heard that garlic can cure coronavirus. Maybe you heard that drinking chlorine dioxide was a potential cure, or spraying it on your body worked similarly. Or maybe you heard that heat or hand dryers can kill the virus. None of those are true. Health officials are clear: There isn’t currently a known cure for the disease, nor is there a vaccine or medication developted for it. CDC officials say prevention — via hygienic practices or avoiding affected communities — is the best way to deal with the virus.

Myth 5Older or younger people are groups more susceptible to the virus

Benson said data indicates children aren’t getting the virus as much, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get it at all. According to the WHO, older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions “appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.”

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