WORLD health chiefs are cracking down on “dangerous” myths circulating as the deadly coronavirus outbreak continues it’s spread.
Popular apps and social media platforms have become swamped with unverified information about how to stop yourself getting coronavirus, the World Health Organization warned.
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But now, in an attempt to clamp down on these myths, the WHO have debunked 13 of the main rumours – including spraying yourself with alcohol and using hand dryers to kill the bug.
It comes as China’s latest figures show 71,810 cases of the illness and 1,775 deaths – most of them in Hubei.
WHO’s guidance follows warnings from a coronavirus expert – who said the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories could trigger more cases in the UK.
Professor Paul Hunter, of the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Norwich Medical School, said fake news leads to bad advice and people taking “greater risks” during health crises.
1. Hand dryers will not kill coronavirus
Rumours had circulated that using hot air from a hand-dryer for 30 seconds could kill the virus if it was on your hands.
But, WHO says this isn’t true and won’t kill the new strain 2019-nCoV – now dubbed Covid-19.
“To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water,” they said.
“Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.”
2. UV lamps should not be used
WHO have urged people not to use UV lamps to sterilise hands or other areas of skin in a bid to beat coronavirus.
The organisation said: “UV lamps should not be used to sterilise hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.”
3. Thermal scanners won’t always detect coronavirus
Thermal scanners are currently being used at airports, train stations and other public places to detect those with a high temperature.
But while these scanners after effective in detecting people who have developed a fever because of infection with the new coronavirus – it won’t pick up those yet to display symptoms.
WHO said: “Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus.
“However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever.
“This is because it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.”
4. Spraying alcohol over your body won’t work
WHO have slammed people who claim spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will kill viruses that have already entered your body.
Instead they say: “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.”
5. Letters and packages from China are safe
Contrary to assumptions, it is actually safe to receive packages from China.
“People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus,” WHO say.
“From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.”
6. Pets can’t get coronavirus
Many people have been left worrying that their furry friends might also be at risk of getting coronavirus.
However, WHO say: “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.”
7. Pneumonia vaccines won’t protect you
According to WHO, it is false for people to say that pneumonia vaccines will protect you against coronavirus.
Vaccines for COVID-19 are still in the making and are unlikely to be finished in time to curb the current outbreak.
What to do if you’re worried you’ve got coronavirus
British health chiefs have raised the coronavirus risk to the public from low to moderate.
Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.
The majority of those who have been infected with the virus so far have either visited China or been in close contact with someone who has.
But if you are concerned known the signs is one of the best ways to protect yourself from 2019-nCoV.
Symptoms usually include:
- a cough
- a high temperature
- difficulty breathing
In most cases, you won’t know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus.
But if a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract, it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease or people with weakened immune systems.
It is incredibly contagious and is spread through contact with anything the virus is on as well as infected breath, coughs or sneezes.
The best way to prevent catching any form of coronavirus is to practice good hygiene.
If you have cold-like symptoms, you can help protect others by staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with others.
You should also cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze then throw it away and wash your hands.
Cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces which you may have touched is also important.
If you have returned from Wuhan in the last 14 days:
- Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with other flu viruses
- Call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the city
- your recent travel to the city
If you are in Northern Ireland, call your GP.
Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus.
Meanwhile, leading symptom-checking provider to the NHS Doctorlink has been updated to help identify patients’ risk of having coronavirus.
“Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus,” WHO say.
“The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts.
“Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.”
8. Rinsing your nose with saline won’t prevent infection
There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus, WHO say.
“There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold,” the organisation adds.
“However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.”
9. Gargling mouthwash won’t protect you
Mouthwash cannot protect you from infection with the new coronavirus.
WHO say: “There is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection with the new coronavirus.
“Some brands or mouthwash can eliminate certain microbes for a few minutes in the saliva in your mouth. However, this does not mean they protect you from 2019-nCoV infection.”
10. Eating garlic won’t prevent infection
While eating garlic can help to treat the common cold, it won’t stop you from being infected with coronavirus.
“Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties,” WHO say.
“However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.”
11. Sesame oil won’t block the new coronavirus
Sesame oil is a staple in Asian cooking – but that’s about all it’s good for.
“Sesame oil does not kill the new coronavirus”, WHO warn.
“There are some chemical disinfectants that can kill the 2019-nCoV on surfaces.
“These include bleach/chlorine-based disinfectants, either solvents, 75% 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.”
12. Young people can get coronavirus
Young people are also at risk of COVID-19, despite patterns showing the elderly are struck more often.
“People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV),” WHO say.
“Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
“WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.”
13. Antibiotics won’t kill coronavirus
COVID-19 is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.
WHO say: “No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.
“The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.
“However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.”