EXPLAINER

Myth-busters on bad COVID-19 advice

Bleach will not help prevent or cure coronavirus. Steer clear. Picture: Shutterstock

Bleach will not help prevent or cure coronavirus. Steer clear. Picture: Shutterstock

With so much fakery on social media, the World Health Organisation is worried people might be getting false ideas about how to deal with coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19.

To help you get to the truth, here are some of the falsehoods you should steer well clear of.

And, remember, the WHO is part of the United Nations and it uses the best scientific advice from all over the globe.

Can antibiotics cure COVID-19?

Bacteria and viruses are different. Bacteria are small living organisms which, in some cases, can poison the body. They cause many illnesses, including tuberculosis. Bacteria can be countered by antibiotics like penicillin.

But COVID-19 is caused by a virus which is a small organism which needs a body, in this case, a human body, in which to survive and multiply. Antibiotics have no effect on it.

Some people who get COVID-19 also get infected by bacteria - but this is in addition to the main illness, and antibiotics may be prescribed for it.

But the advice of the World Health Organisation is: "There is currently no licensed medication to cure COVID-19."

Will a thermal scanner detect COVID-19?

There's no guarantee it will.

All a thermal scanner detects is heat from the body. It can tell if you are hotter than you would be if you were free of fever.

So if you have COVID-19 in its early stages or if you have it without symptoms, the thermal scanner won't pick anything abnormal up - and if you have it but don't realise, you can still pass it on.

The WHO advice is: "Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature). They cannot detect people who are infected with COVID-19."

But aren't there drugs which can be used to treat COVID-19?

You may have heard of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, not least because it was mentioned by Donald Trump.

The World Health Organisation contradicts him flatly: "There are currently no drugs licensed for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. While several drug trials are ongoing, there is currently no proof that hydroxychloroquine or any other drug can cure or prevent COVID-19. The misuse of hydroxychloroquine can cause serious side effects and illness and even lead to death."

What about bleach?

Mr Trump also wondered whether bleach might work. "I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?" he said. "So it'd be interesting to check that."

It's been checked. Bleach or any disinfectant, either injected or put on the skin or swallowed does not work and it may well kill you. Do not use these substances. Repeat: Do not use them.

The WHO advice is: "Do not under any circumstance spray or introduce bleach or any other disinfectant into your body. These substances can be poisonous if ingested and cause irritation and damage to your skin and eyes. Bleach and disinfectant should be used carefully to disinfect surfaces only. Remember to keep chlorine (bleach) and other disinfectants out of reach of children."

But winter is here so I can't catch the coronavirus

Not true.

The WHO says: "Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus. There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases. The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5 degrees to 37 degrees, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water."

What about pepper as a protector?

No.

"Hot peppers in your food, though very tasty, cannot prevent or cure COVID-19," the WHO says. "The best way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is to keep at least one metre away from others and to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly."

5G networks?

"5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19," the WHO emphasises.

"Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.

"COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose."

Taking a hot bath?

Sorry, but it doesn't work.

"Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19," the WHO says.

"Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5 degrees to 37 degrees, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands."

What's the best way of keeping clean?

"Ultra-violet (UV) lamps should not be used to disinfect hands or other areas of your skin. UV radiation can cause skin irritation and damage your eyes," the WHO says.

"Cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing your hands with soap and water are the most effective ways to remove the virus."

This story Myth-busters on bad COVID-19 advice first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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