Whether it’s affected you or not, the 2019 novel coronavirus has slowed down life as we know it. Any event that congregates large crowds, such as the Tokyo Olympics and fashion weeks, are threatened. Travel bans were implemented. In countries where the virus is rampant, such as China and Hong Kong, less and less people are braving the world outside their doorsteps in fear of getting infected. But with multiple news sites covering the health issue, it’s easy to get lost in all the information presented. Here, we debunk a few of the myths and misconceptions about the virus:
1. You can’t get the coronavirus from packages delivered from China.
If you’re having something delivered from China, which is the center of the epidemic and currently has the most cases, then you needn’t worry about it being infected. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronavirus does not live long on surfaces and if you factor in the delivery time, you can bet that any viral droplets would not have survived. If, however, an infected person sneezes on a plane hand rest or comes in contact with a public restroom faucet, there is a chance of transferring it to others. A study conducted on other forms of coronaviruses found that it may last on metal, plastic, or glass for two hours to nine days. This may be why airlines and public transportation vehicles are taking extreme measures to sanitize their surfaces.
2. Wearing a mask will not guarantee protection from the virus.
When the news of the virus first spread, people flocked to the nearest drug store and hoarded face masks. We’ve now heard from multiple sources that face masks are not entirely effective in protecting one from the coronavirus. WHO recommends that one uses a medical mask only in these cases: (1) you have a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing or (2) you are caring for someone who is suspected to have the coronavirus. Experts from WHO also clarify that masks are only effective when partnered with other preventive measures such as frequent hand-washing. Eli Perencevich, a professor of medicine and epidemiology from the University of Iowa has told Forbes in an interview that wearing a mask can even increase one’s risk of contracting the virus because they often use them incorrectly and touch their faces more frequently.
3. You can get the virus from kissing someone who has it.
Save those besos for another day. We’ve learned from experts that kissing can spread the virus. Just this week, the French government has advised its citizens to stop the tradition of kissing each other on the cheek as a form of greeting in the hopes of minimizing the spread. At the same time, German politicians have even traded in handshakes for elbow bumps.
4. Thermal scanners are not the most effective measures.
Thermal scanners stationed at malls, offices, or other public places may help in distinguishing those who have fevers, as is one of the common symptoms of those afflicted with the novel coronavirus. They cannot, however, detect those who have the virus but are not stricken with fever yet. The average time for a person infected to develop a fever from the virus is between two and 10 days.
5. The novel coronavirus is spread from person to person, so it’s still best to avoid close contact with those who are sick.
If you are within close proximity of someone who has contracted the virus, The New York Times reports that there are several factors that may affect one’s level of risk: how close you are, how long you are near him or her, how much you touch your face, and if you are exposed to viral droplets from that person. If you know someone is visibly sick, stand six feet away from that person to avoid exposure to saliva or mucus droplets carried in the air.
6. Your pets cannot get the coronavirus.
It was previously reported that one dog in Hong Kong tested positive for the coronavirus, which gave pet owners a scare. Pets cannot be infected by the novel coronavirus, though they can test positive for it, reports CNN. We learned earlier that the virus can live on surfaces so the coronavirus can be present on a dog or cat, in the same way it can be present on a table or chair. This doesn’t mean that your furry friend has been infected. "Present evidence suggests that dogs are no more of a risk of spreading [coronavirus] than inanimate objects such as door handles," Lifelong Animal Protection Charity founder Sheila McClelland writes in a letter to Hong Kong authorities. Dogs and cats may get a coronavirus, but it’s not the same strain as the novel coronavirus in this epidemic, and cannot be passed on to humans.