By MACKENZIE STEELE
Did you miss part one of this myth busting series? Check out myths 1 to 4 here.
There’s been a lot of information and misinformation floating around about COVID19, and it can be really hard to tell fact from fiction. I’ve compiled some of the common things I’ve heard, and there are links to more information from reputable sources in there too. Happy reading!
5. It can’t thrive in hot or sunny places.
A lot of people think that illnesses like COVID19, the flu, and “the common cold” are only for winter. The reason why “flu season” is in winter is because our immune systems are less active when it is cold, but not more active the hotter it gets!
Like most things, COVID19 will be destroyed if you heat it high enough, but that doesn’t mean it can’t hurt you in an African summer. Bacteria and viruses cannot stand high temperatures, so 70°C is recommended for washing things that need to be sterilised or cooking food like chicken (just remember that this can burn you, and for food, let it cool first).
As for sunshine, UV light is well known to be destructive. The sun gives off three types of UV, and UVC is known to be effective against COVID19’s close relative, SARS. The only problem is UVC is very bad for you too, causing sunburn in seconds. Sunburn happens because UV breaks your cells and chops the instructions telling your cells what they need to do into pieces (and when cells survive but don’t have good instructions, they become cancer). UV light does that to viruses too, except viruses can’t get cancer and are destroyed instead. So while that’s great, don’t rely on the sun and don’t stand under a UVC light.
6. COVID-19 is airborne.
No, it’s not. A study proved that it can be made airborne in certain circumstances, circumstances that only scientists and healthcare workers involved in invasive surgeries will ever be exposed to. Siouxsie Wilkes talks a bit more about it here. However, if it was airborne, you would be making sure your house is well-ventilated, which is good practice anyway.
7. I should wear a face mask so I don’t get it.
You should consider wearing one, but it won’t help you avoid being infected. However, it will stop other people getting it from you. Because the virus is not airborne, it can’t travel very well in air as it is heavy. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t propel it a long way through sneezing, coughing, or singing, but it does mean the main way you will get COVID19 is by touching a surface the virus is on. That’s why coughing into your hand is bad, because then the virus will be on your hand and transfer to anything you touch. It can also land on things after being breathed/sung/coughed out into the air, since it is heavy and falls, and that can happen even if the person breathing/singing/coughing doesn’t have symptoms. The facemask blocks it as it leaves your lungs, so it can’t reach anybody else, and you won’t pass it on to other people.
However, if you are a doctor or nurse, you might be exposed to the rare times COVID19 can be airborne, so wearing a mask is for your own protection as well. And regardless of whether you wear a mask or not, you must always be vigilant of hand hygiene and distancing.
8. If I put gloves on, I’m protected because the virus can’t touch my skin.
The virus comes in through your mouth, not your skin. So imagine that you put gloves on, and you touch something, like a door-handle, with the virus on it. Then you touch something else, maybe a bench which was sterile (and now is coated with virus). You touch lots of other things, then you make your lunch and eat it. With your virus-covered gloves.
Every time you touch a surface with gloves on, the gloves have become contaminated! They then can contaminate things they touch! Don’t use one pair of gloves for everything and assume you are protected, just like you wouldn’t clean the kitchen with the gloves you used to clean the toilet.
9. I need hand sanitiser all the time!
Washing your hands with soap and water is more effective. It can wash viruses away safely and will clean your hands of everything. Hand sanitisers with at least 60% alcohol are good if you don’t have running water around, like when you are out and about. Make sure you use the hand sanitiser correctly, by using the recommended amount on the packet and rubbing your hands as if you were washing them until it’s dry.
As a side note, if you put your favourite song into https://washyourlyrics.com/, it will generate a poster with the lyrics so you can wash your hands for 20 seconds to stay COVID-free!
10. My pet could get it because it came from animals.
Not necessarily, but you should still keep Fluffy inside. Animals are all different, so the virus has to change itself to smuggle itself into the cells of different animals (if it can’t get into a cell, you won’t get sick and the virus will be destroyed by your immune system without being able to spread). We know now that cats can get it from humans, so keep your cat safe inside with you. Other than with cats, the chances of you having a strain of COVID19 that can infect your pet is low. However, the virus can stay on your pets’ fur if people with contaminated hands have been patting them, so don’t pat other people’s pets and keep yours inside.
For more, accurate, information, go to https://covid19.govt.nz/ and https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.
Mackenzie is Tearaway’s resident evil Aspie queen. Mwahaha! She’s dead set on becoming a geneticist, but she’s interested in other things too. Like Sims, cats, owls, Sims, books, music, Sims, Ancient Roman life, Latin, Sims…