For the latest verified information on COVID-19, keep an eye on the World Health Organisation websites.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 forms part of the coronavirus family. Coronaviruses are common throughout the world and mostly found in animals. However, in rare instances a coronavirus can lead to human infections, primarily resulting in cold- or flu-like symptoms. In instances where an animal coronavirus infects humans, we refer to it as a novel (new) coronavirus. In the case of COVID-19, virologists have found that the coronavirus called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus is responsible for COVID-19.
The novel coronavirus doesn’t have any distinct symptoms that set it apart from the average flu. The World Health Organisation has advised persons who develop the below symptoms, and believe they could’ve been in contact with an infected person, to rather seek medical care early and undergo lab tests. These individuals are also required to self-isolate until testing has been concluded and persons have been give the all-clear.
Symptoms can present themselves as early as 2 days and as late as 14 days after infection.
More Severe Cases
Unfortunately, with experts only now beginning to grasp the intricacies of COVID-19, a lot of false information has been shared far and wide across social platforms. We take a look at some of the biggest myths and give you the facts.
There is currently no vaccine. Experts urge people to wash their hands with regular soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, sneezing, coughing or before handling food. If you want to take extra precautions, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with an alcohol content of no less than 60%.
MYTH: High doses of vitamin C will protect you
There is currently no scientific evidence that any alternative medicines and supplements could prevent or cure COVID-19. In fact, taking high doses of vitamins could lead to kidney and liver problems. Consult your doctor before taking any medication or supplements.
MYTH: Everyone needs to wear a mask
Wearing a mask is only effective when a person is already infected or immunocompromised. The WHO also advises individuals who work with infected patients, such as medical staff and hospital staff, to wear a mask.
MYTH: There is a vaccine and/or cure
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) there is currently no vaccine or cure for COVID-19. Researchers from various countries are still working to develop a vaccine and, should they be successful, could take several months before it’s made available to the public.
MYTH: Current flu and pneumonia vaccines will protect you
Again, there are no known vaccines that will prevent COVID-19 infection. Authorities urge people to continue practicing basic hygiene by washing hands regularly with soap, staying home when you are sick and holding your hand(s) in front of your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
MYTH: Pets can get infected and spread COVID-19
There is no evidence that pets can get infected with the novel coronavirus. The WHO still reminds people to continue washing their hands after contact with pets.
MYTH: Saline nasal rinses and mouthwash will stave off the infection
While saline rinses and mouthwash do have antimicrobial properties, these won’t do much in terms of preventing a COVID-19 infection.
MYTH: Items mailed from China could be infected
It’s still safe to accept packages from China. The novel coronavirus is fragile outside of the human body and won’t survive long on packages or other objects.
MYTH: Only the elderly get infected
People of all ages are vulnerable to infection. However, elderly and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart diseases or immunodeficiency will experience harsher symptoms.
MYTH: Antibiotics are effective in treating COVID-19
Antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections, and Covid-19 is a viral infection. Infected individuals are currently given antibiotics for other bacterial co-infections that might develop along with COVID-19. Doctors are also administering oxygen to patients experiencing breathing difficulties.
MYTH: COVID-19 is spread from animal meat
While researchers believe the virus originated from an animal (either bats or snakes), the virus is only spread through coming into contact with respiratory droplets as a result of coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread through saliva and nasal discharge, while early research also shows a possible link to faecal matter.