Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction

Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash
Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

The global 2019 Coronavirus pandemic is causing lots of talk all over the world. With instant access to news online, it’s easy for the truth of the virus to be sensationalized and false information to spread. Here is everything you need to know.

What is the Coronavirus?

The current Coronavirus crisis is not actually “new”-the 2019 Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is from a family of viruses called Coronaviridae that cause diseases in animals. In 2003, there was a SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak that resulted in over 8,000 infections. There is also MERS which refers to the single strain of Coronaviridae present in the Middle East. Therefore, the 2019-nCoV is the most recent strain of Coronavirus. The World Health Organization has recently announced that the illness caused by this strain of Coronavirus will be referred to as “COVID-19.”

It is believed that Coronaviridae viruses are initially transferred through the consumption of animals by humans. After this, the virus is spread via contact with an infected person or surface that has particles of the virus on it. Like any other illness, it is extremely important to wash your hands and cover coughs or sneezes to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. This holds true for the coronavirus, as well. 

Identifying the virus is difficult because the symptoms are general to most other illnesses. Infected people experience fever, headache, sore throat, body aches, etc. These symptoms are similar to the flu which is also prevalent during the winter season. The only way to know if these symptoms are a result of the coronavirus is to use a diagnostic test. 

The rapid movement of the virus has caused a lot of fear and concern across the world. This has resulted in inaccurate information about the virus and unfortunate incidents of racism towards China, where the 2019-nCoV strain was first reported. Read on to get the real facts about Coronavirus.  

Common Coronavirus Myths

Myth: A vaccine is available for protection against 19-nCoV.

There is currently not a vaccine for 19-nCoV because of how new it is. Making a vaccine could take months. The best forms of protection at this time are practicing daily hygiene and avoiding infected individuals. 

Myth: Deaths from Coronavirus are frequent and happening globally. 

Much like the flu, the virus is generally only a severe threat to the elderly, very young children, or those with pre-existing conditions. The majority of deaths related to the virus have occurred near the source of the outbreak and were in elderly populations.

Myth: Pets can spread Coronavirus. 

Per the CDC, much is unknown about how the new 19-nCoV spreads. Current theories are based on the activity of similar Coronaviruses. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people. More often, pets carry their own strain of coronavirus; however, these are not typically human pathogens and do not infect humans.

Myth: Wearing a mask will protect against the virus. 

Wearing a mask can indeed prevent the spread of pathogens which can protect against the virus. However, it is important to ensure the mask is fitted tight to the face and to avoid touching the nose or mouth before washing your hands. Read these tips on how to properly wear a face mask, or watch this instructional video from a doctor showing how one should be worn. 

Myth: Taking antibiotics can protect against or fight the virus. 

Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections. While antiviral medications do exist for other viral illnesses, there is currently no specific antiviral treatment available for COVID-19. It can only be fought off by the body’s immune system response and supportive medical care. 

Preventing the Spread of Disease

COVID-19 proves to be a rapidly spreading illness. By practicing daily hygiene such as hand washing, avoiding contact with sick individuals, and covering sneezes or coughs, you can prevent the spread of all viruses and bacteria. Ensure small children do the same and assist them in helping prevent the spread of disease.

When visiting someone in the hospital, it is important to wash hands thoroughly before coming in contact with patients or hard surfaces. Most hospitals make hand sanitizer available as well. As always, it’s best to avoid bringing children into the hospital environment and not visit patients when you have symptoms of illness.

The Coronavirus is no different than any other virus. By staying educated and maintaining healthy practices, you can prevent the spread of both the virus and misinformation. To learn more about Coronavirus, refer to the links below:

Informational Video from the World Health Organization on Coronavirus 

Coronavirus Page on the CDC Website 

Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Page on the World Health Organization Website