Coronoavirus myths busted by the World Health Organisation

Shipping News: The Corona Dynamic in Newcastle Harbour. We'd rather see a ship called the Corona Inactive. Picture: Luca Maxwell
Shipping News: The Corona Dynamic in Newcastle Harbour. We'd rather see a ship called the Corona Inactive. Picture: Luca Maxwell

Shiver me timbers, the name of this ship is making us shiver.

Luca Maxwell spotted this vessel - the Corona Dynamic - from the Stockton Ferry on her way to school.

The world is, of course, hoping that the words corona and dynamic won't be synonymous for much longer.

High-level scientists are working on a vaccine for the Covid-19 coronavirus. Meanwhile, low-level health enthusiasts also doing their bit to make themselves feel a tad less anxious about the virus.

For example, some people have taken to increasing their intake of immune-boosting garlic. When we mentioned this to a colleague, he said: "Why? It's a virus not a vampire".

The World Health Organisation [WHO] is all over this garlic caper, too.

On its website, under the title, "Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) advice for the public: Myth busters", the WHO asks: "Can eating garlic help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?"

Its answer: "Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus."

There was no mention of vampires.

The WHO also responded to the question: "Does putting on sesame oil block the new coronavirus from entering the body?"

Its answer: "No. Sesame oil does not kill the new coronavirus. There are some chemical disinfectants that can kill [Covid-19] on surfaces. These include bleach/chlorine-based disinfectants, ether solvents, 75 per cent ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform. However, they have little or no impact on the virus if you put them on the skin or under your nose. It can even be dangerous to put these chemicals on your skin."

Again, no mention of vampires.

This is a good one, too: "Is it safe to receive a letter or a package from China?"

The WHO's response: "Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects such as letters or packages."

What about pets? Can they spread the coronavirus?

WHO's answer: "At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella that can pass between pets and humans."

The WHO also answered this question: "Can spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body kill the new coronavirus?"

Its response: "No. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations."

And lastly, "Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?"

WHO's answer: "No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. The new coronavirus [Covid-19] is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, if you are hospitalised for [Covid-19], you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible."

This story Does coronavirus survive in the post? first appeared on Newcastle Herald.