Humans have been battling viral diseases for thousands of years and for some, vaccines and antiviral drugs have not only allowed us to keep infections from spreading widely, but also helping many sick people recover.
As the world is still battling with the new Corona Virus SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 (the disease it causes), increasingly driving outbreaks around the globe and still seems its a long way from winning the fight against it, news articles and social media posts about the outbreak continue to spread online. Unfortunately, among this relentless flood of information, are certain tailored rumors and misinformation that have made it difficult to separate fact from fiction, which can turn out to be dangerous.
In Uganda, we are yet to confirm a Corona Virus case and still standing out as the only East African Community member with Tanzania that is still free of this lethal virus that has so far infected tens of thousands as well as claiming thousands of lives. Among our neighbors, Rwanda has so far 5 cases (allegedly including a Ugandan National) and no deaths yet, Kenya has two cases with no deaths and South Sudan one case (dead) and DRC Congo 2 cases.
Here is a list of the most pervasive myths about this novel coronavirus that could be misleading and dangerous.
Surgical Masks Protects you from SARS-CoV-2
Standard surgical masks are not designed to block out viral particles and do not lay flush to the face. They can only help prevent infected people from spreading the virus further by blocking any respiratory droplets that could be expelled from their mouths.
The virus is just a mutated form of the common cold
No, it’s not. Corona virus is a large family of viruses that includes many different diseases. SARS-CoV-2 does share similarities with other corona viruses, four of which can cause the common.
The virus was probably made in a lab
No evidence suggests that the virus is man-made. SARS-CoV-2 closely resembles two other corona viruses 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 corona viruses that made the jump from animals to people.
Getting COVID-19 is a death sentence
About 81% of people who are infected with the coronavirus have mild cases of COVID-19, according to anumber of studies by Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and a number of scientists. About 13.8% report severe illness, meaning they have shortness of breath, or require supplemental oxygen, and about 4.7% are critical, meaning they face respiratory failure, multi-organ failure or septic shock.
The data thus far suggests that only around 2.3% of people infected with COVID-19 die from the virus. People who are older or have underlying health conditions seem to be most at risk of having severe disease or complications.
Kids can’t catch the coronavirus
Children can definitely catch COVID-19, though initial reports suggested fewer cases in children compared with adults. Studies suggest children are as likely as adults to become infected. Still, when children become infected, they seem less likely to develop severe disease
Corona Virus doesn’t Kill People of Black Race
This started as a joke but has turned out to be a beleivable myth. However, any person who comes into close contact with someone who is infected is at risk for contracting the virus. A 21-year old Cameroon named Kem Senou Pavel Daryl contracted the virus while living in the Chinese city of Jingzhou to become the first African person known to be infected with the deadly coronavirus, and the first person to recover from it. This ultimately became the source for this myth.
Though the virus hasn’t spread in Africa as quickly as it has on some other continents, numbers of cases are rising day by day.
If you have coronavirus, “you’ll know”
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 a serious pneumonia-like illness but early on, infected people may show no symptoms at all.
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. In comparison, recent data suggests that COVID-19 has a mortality rate more than 20 times higher, of around 2.3%.