With the coronavirus quickly becoming the talk of the town and more than 100,000 people being infected, it seems that wherever it goes, rumours follow. So, we’ve put together 11 lies you’ve probably heard about the infamous COVID-19.
#1. If you have coronavirus, “you’ll know about it”
No, you won’t. COVID-19 causes a wide range of symptoms, many of which appear in other respiratory illnesses such as the flu and the common cold.
Specifically, common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and rarer symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting and a runny nose. In severe cases, the disease can progress into serious pneumonia-like illness — but early on, infected people may show no symptoms at all.
#2. You’re far less likely to contract it than the flu
Not necessarily. To estimate how easily a virus spreads, scientists calculate its “basic reproduction number,” or R0 (pronounced R-nought). R0 predicts the number of people who can catch a given bug from a single infected person.
Currently, the R0 for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, is estimated at about 2.2, meaning a single infected person will infect about 2.2 others, on average. By comparison, the flu has an R0 of 1.3.
#3. It’s not safe to receive a package from China
It is safe to receive letters or packages from China, according to the World Health Organization. Previous research has found that coronaviruses don’t survive long on objects such as letters and packages. Based on what we know about similar coronaviruses such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, experts think this new coronavirus likely survives poorly on surfaces.
#4. It’s just a mutated form of the common cold
No, it’s not. Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that includes many different diseases. Some of the symptoms of a cold are similar to that of the coronavirus, but they are different in more way than they are similar.
#5. Pets can spread it
Probably not to humans. One dog in China contracted a “low-level infection” from its owner, who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, meaning dogs may be vulnerable to picking up the virus from people, according to The South China Morning Post.
Animal health expert Vanessa Barrs of City University told the Post… “Previous experience with SARS suggests that cats and dogs will not become sick or transmit the virus to humans,” she said. “Importantly, there was no evidence of viral transmission from pet dogs or cats to humans.”
#6. The coronavirus was made in a lab
No evidence suggests that the virus is man-made. SARS-CoV-2 closely resembles two other coronaviruses that have triggered outbreaks in recent decades, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, and all three viruses seem to have originated in bats.
In short, the characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 fall in line with what we know about other naturally occurring coronaviruses that made the jump from animals to people.
#7. It’s a death sentence
That’s not true. About 81% of people who are infected with the coronavirus have mild cases of COVID-19, according to a study published Feb. 18 by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. While there’s no need to panic, people should take steps to prepare and protect themselves and others from the new coronavirus.
#8. Face masks can protect you from the virus
Standard surgical masks cannot protect you from SARS-CoV-2, as they are not designed to block out viral particles and do not lay flush to the face.
That said, surgical masks can help prevent infected people from spreading the virus further by blocking any respiratory droplets that could be expelled from their mouths.
#9. Kids can’t catch the coronavirus
Children can definitely catch COVID-19, though initial reports suggested fewer cases in children compared with adults. For example, a Chinese study from Hubei province released in February found that of more than 44,000 cases of COVID-19, about only 2.2% involved children under age 19.
#10. The coronavirus is less deadly than the flu
So far, it appears the coronavirus is more deadly than the flu. However, there’s still a lot of uncertainty around the mortality rate of the virus. The annual flu typically has a mortality rate of around 0.1% in the U.S. So far, there’s a 0.05% mortality rate among those who caught the flu virus in the U.S. this year, according to the CDC.
In comparison, recent data suggests that COVID-19 has a mortality rate more than 20 times higher, of around 2.3%, according to a study published Feb. 18 by the China CDC Weekly.
#11. You can get the coronavirus if you eat at Chinese restaurants
No, you can’t. Remember, just because a restaurant serves Chinese dishes, it doesn’t mean it gets all of its ingredients sent over from China every day.
Besides, if this were the case, you’d also have to avoid Italian, Korean, Japanese and Iranian restaurants, considering they too have been fighting an outbreak.
If you want to know more about the coronavirus, or would like information on how you protect yourself against it, visit the NHS website.