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Combating Misinformation on the COVID-19 Virus

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis spreads across the globe, so do the rumors. As someone rightly said that only thing spreading faster than the virus itself is false information/rumors.

Here is a useful guide we’ve compiled to combat some of the most widespread rumors surrounding COVID-19.


Do I need to go to the grocery store and stock up?


No, you do not need to rush in and clear the shelves, the stores will remain open. Most countries are making sure that stores selling essential supplies will remain open and are even working with the suppliers to fill empty shelves. In fact, rushing to the store and hoarding goods is exactly what you shouldn’t do.


Are young people immune to the disease?


No, young people can get the disease too. Like many illnesses, those at higher risk for serious symptoms are the elderly, individuals with compromised immune systems and those with serious chronic medical conditions.

For many young people, COVID-19 may present itself very mildly, with cold-like symptoms such as a fever, cough or runny nose. However, that doesn’t mean young people are immune to the disease. Take precautions.


Will wearing a face mask prevent me from getting COVID-19?


If you are not sick, wearing a face mask will not do much to protect you from respiratory diseases. In fact, face masks should really only be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Mass hoarding of face masks by the healthy public reduces supplies for affected individuals and healthcare professionals who need them to safely treat and care for patients with all kinds of illnesses.


Is this a warm-weather virus?


The answer to this question hasn’t been determined yet.

Other viruses, colds and the flu, tend to spread more during cold weather months, but it is still possible to contract them in warm weather and places with warm climates. Considering this is a novel virus and we have no history to fall back on, it can only be assumed based on the behaviour of other flu or cold viruses.

At this time, it hasn’t yet been determined whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when the weather becomes warmer, but research is underway.


Should I stock up on hand sanitizer?


While hand sanitizer is a great way to keep your hands free of germs in certain circumstances, hoarding it isn’t the sensible thing to do. Washing your hands is a much more effective way to keep your hands free and clear of transmittable illnesses, including COVID-19.

You should wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available and your hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol is a good substitute.

You only need a bottle or two of hand sanitizer, so please don’t buy in bulk and hoard.


Safety Measures You Should Follow


Beware of Fake Cures


US authorities have been cracking down on fake cures for COVID-19, including vitamins, colloidal silver, teas, and essential oils. None of these are approved treatments or preventative measures against the disease.

There is no approved drug in the market so far.  Many people unfortunately, are trying to capitalize on this by selling vitamins, essential oils, and many other kinds of homemade remedies. Please beware of these scams. Companies have been selling "immunity boosting" products, hinting they can stop the virus spread. According to the World Health Organization, Vitamin C, Zinc, and similar treatments don't have any known effects on preventing the contraction of COVID-19.


Beware of Suspicious Emails


Beware of emails purporting to be from HR departments, executives, and health organizations. Hackers have been using the virus to access computers and steal credentials.

Many hackers are looking at the outbreak as an opportunity to get into your systems. Many people are in a state of panic and don’t tend to ascertain the authenticity of the sender and click on these emails. Please make sure that if you receive an email from an unrecognized source or HR Department with no company name or recognised domain name, or even from the Health Department, don’t click on it until you are sure about the sender.


Fake Claims


Stomach Acid

A viral post claiming your stomach acid will kill the coronavirus if you drink enough water is bad advice, according to various experts.

The best advice for prevention is to avoid exposure by practicing social distancing, washing your hands regularly, and avoiding touching your face, mouth, and eyes. If you feel ill, seek medical attention. And instead of relying on viral chain letters, consult the health line number set up by your local govt.


Inhaling Hot Air

A YouTube video with nearly half a million views falsely and dangerously advises that inhaling hot air from a hair dryer to cure the coronavirus. This is false. Inhaling hot air will not thwart COVID-19.

Drinking Vodka

27 people were hospitalised in Iran as they tried this remedy to kill the virus and ended up with alcohol poisoning.


Cocaine cure

Several viral tweets purporting that snorting cocaine would sterilize one's nostrils of the coronavirus spread around Europe and Africa. In response, the French Ministry of Health released a PSA debunking this claim, as did the World Health Organisation.


Vaccine preexistence

It was reported that multiple social media posts have promoted a conspiracy theory claiming the virus was known and that a vaccine was already available. PolitiFact and FactCheck.org noted that no vaccine currently exists for COVID-19. The patents cited by various social media posts reference existing patents for genetic sequences and vaccines for other strains of coronavirus such as the SARS coronavirus.


Stay Positive, Stay Healthy. Don’t panic but be prepared and take necessary precautions.Participate in flattening the curve, individual efforts and collective measures on social distancing and self-isolation matters a lot, together we will win the fight.


DPC-Chartered Professional Accountant

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