The Gap

Coronavirus: Separating fact from fiction

Coronavirus: Separating fact from fiction/Skabash

Honesty may be the best policy, but misinformation in the media at the outset of the Coronavirus pandemic suggests otherwise. The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes this phenomenon as an infodemic as dangerous as Covid-19.

In an article titled, ‘fake news’, Claire Wardle identified seven types of fake news. Misinformation could be satire or parody (no intention to cause harm but has the potential to fool), misleading content (misleading use of information to frame an issue or individual), or imposter content (when genuine sources are impersonated). It may be fabricated content (new content is 100% false, designed to deceive and do harm). The co-founder and director of First Draft News also said it may also be a faulty connection (when headlines, visuals or captions don’t support the content), wrong context (when genuine content is shared with false contextual information), and manipulated content (when accurate information or imagery is used to deceive). Reporting on Covid-19 has been a mix of all seven elements. There has been an overabundance of news that mixes facts with conspiracy theories, rumours, and fake news.

In this article, we shall use humorous questions and answers to separate what is true or false about Covid-19.

A Covid-19 test with a negative result means I am safe, right?

Well, don’t say hallelujah yet! A negative result could mean you probably weren’t infected when you embarked on the test. And if you got tested immediately you were exposed to the virus; chances are it could be too early for the infection to appear on the test. So, technically, you are not safe. Testing negative for the virus today doesn’t mean you cannot become infected tomorrow.

Can using antibiotics, consuming garlic, drinking alcohol, or applying chlorine and alcohol spray treat Covid-19?

Antibiotics, like penicillin, only kill bacteria, not viruses like Covid-19. How will spraying chlorine or alcohol on your body kill a virus inside the body? Drinking alcohol so it can attack the virus inside the body won’t help either. As regards garlic, there is no evidence eating it prevents infection. Ways to keep safe include getting vaccinated, keeping your hands clean, wearing a mask in a crowded area, and practising social distancing.

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What about swallowing, injecting, bathing in, or rubbing onto your body salt, bleach, or disinfectants?

It is easier to commit suicide with those toxic ingredients than to use them as self-treatment for Covid-19. 

What roles do high or low temperatures play?

There is no evidence that exposure to the sun prevents the virus as you can contract it in humid, sunny, hot weather. Taking a hot bath won’t change your body temperature. It remains the same even after a cold bath. Also, low temperatures found during cold weather and snow cannot kill the virus.

Can Ivermectin prevent or cure Covid-19?

If Covid-19 were a parasitic disease, Ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication, is the solution. The WHO does not recommend its use on Covid-19 patients and wants people to ignore the misleading reports that taking the drug prevents or cures the virus, especially on social media.

Children cannot contract Covid-19, right?

Wrong! Children can get the virus and even transmit it. However, the effects seem to be milder in children than in adults. Still, the virus can develop into a severe lung infection in rare cases, and deaths may occur—the WHO recommends a vaccine for children ages five and above.

Ways of countering misinformation

For now, there is no cure available for Covid-19. While researchers are testing various treatments, naysayers and conspiracy theorists continue to spread false information about ways to prevent, treat, and survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here are four measures to prevent the spread of fake news:

Don’t leave false information on your social media networks. Politely ask the person who shared it to delete it. If the person refuses, remove them from your network.

Report the misinformation to the platform administrators.

Before you share any information, apply the Rotary Four-Way Test of the things we think, say, or do. Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendship? Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

Make more noise with the truth than people who share false information.

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Coronavirus symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Covid-19 may manifest two to 14 days after exposure. The incubation period is the time taken to show symptoms after contracting the virus. Here are the common signs and symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Tiredness

Early symptoms may include a loss of taste or smell. Other symptoms are:

  • Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Rash

Covid-19 emergency signs and symptoms can include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent chest pain
  • Sleeplessness

Causes of coronavirus

Severe acute respiratory syndrome infection coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2 are responsible for Covid-19. The virus spreads from person to person, especially among those in close contact. The respiratory droplets released when someone with Covid-19 talks, coughs, sneezes, breathes or sings spread the virus can be inhaled or land in a close-by person’s mouth, eyes, or nose.

The virus is spread by air when a person is exposed to tiny droplets or aerosols that stay in the air for several minutes or hours.

It can also spread if you touch a surface with the virus on it and subsequently touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. However, the risk is low.

Asymptomatic transmission is when someone who is infected but has no symptoms spreads the virus. Presymptomatic transmission is when someone infected but has not developed symptoms yet spreads the virus.

Though it’s uncommon, it’s possible to contract Covid-19 more than once.

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Effective Covid-19 prevention tips

  • Get a Covid-19 vaccine
  • When you’re outdoors or indoors or in close contact with unvaccinated people, wear a mask.

The WHO recommends the following precautions for avoiding the virus:

  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has symptoms of the virus, like fever, cough, diarrhoea, etc.
  • Keep distance between yourself and others, especially if Covid-19 is spreading in your area
  • Wash your hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol
  • Wear a face mask
  • Cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or a tissue when you sneeze or cough
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth
  • Discourage the sharing of dishes, glasses, bedding, etc. if you’re sick 
  • Avoid taking public transportation if you’re sick

Conclusion

Most times, our inaction can encourage the spread of fake news. So, let us contribute to the war on misinformation by challenging such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. If you are tech-savvy, why not create apps, videos, or songs to fight this more extensive virus that doesn’t deserve a fancy name like Infodemic.

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