Hand dryer, garlic cannot prevent coronavirus: WHO busts 12 myths about the infection

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WHO released a note to bust myths about coronavirus infection. (Source: Reuters)

With the outbreak of coronavirus, rumours about ways of prevention and cure have poured in from all quarters. Social media is also rife with suggestions that could be potentially risky, from using alcohol spray to bleach, making it difficult for people to differentiate between fact and myth.

To put an end to all misinformation, World Health Organisation (WHO) released a note debunking 12 myths about coronavirus. Here's what it said:

1. Hand dryers cannot kill the new coronavirus

There had reportedly been rumours earlier that using hot air from a hand-dryer for 30 seconds can wipe out the virus from your hands. WHO says that is not true. Instead, they recommend one should frequently clean their hands "with an alcohol-based hand-rub or wash them with soap and water". The hands should then be dried thoroughly using paper towels or a warm dryer.

2. Ultraviolet disinfection lamps should not be used

The ultraviolet radiation from UV lamps can cause skin irritation so they should not be used to sterilise hands or any part of the body, warned WHO.

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3. Thermal scanners may not detect coronavirus

For people who develop fever because of infection with coronavirus, thermal scanners can be useful in detection. But it can take two to 10 days for people to become sick and have fever. These scanners cannot detect those who are infected but have not developed fever yet, said WHO.

4. Spraying alcohol or chlorine does not kill viruses

While these substances do not kill viruses that have already entered the body, they can be harmful for our clothes and mucous membranes. "Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations," WHO advised.

5. It is safe to receive a package or letter from China

Contrary to assumptions, it is actually safe to receive packages from China. Coronavirus does not survive long on objects such as letters or packages, as proved in previous analysis, and so these objects are not at the risk of contracting coronavirus.

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6. Pets do not spread coronavirus

"At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus," read the WHO note. One should, however, wash their hands properly with soap and water after any contact with pets to protect themselves from common bacteria such as E coli and salmonella.

7. Vaccines against pneumonia do not protect you from coronavirus

The virus is new and needs its own vaccine. Pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine cannot provide the required protection.

8. Rinsing your nose with saline cannot prevent coronavirus infection

"There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus," WHO mentioned. In fact, regularly rinsing the nose has not been found to prevent respiratory infections.

9. Mouthwash does not protect you from infection

There has been no evidence to show mouthwash can protect you from coronavirus.

10. Eating garlic cannot prevent coronavirus infection

Similarly, no study has found consuming garlic to be a preventive measure for coronavirus infection.

11. Sesame oil does not kill coronavirus

Some chemical disinfectants that can kill the 2019-nCoV on surface include "bleach/chlorine-based disinfectants, either solvents, 75 per cent ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform", as per WHO.

12. Antibiotics cannot prevent coronavirus infection

Antibiotics work against bacteria but not viruses. Since 2019-nCoV is a virus, antibiotics should not be used for prevention. "However, if you are hospitalised for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible," informs WHO.