Here’s a typical email from a friend trying to be helpful, with annotations boldfaced from trusted sources that counter fake medical claims with facts.
Subject: Fwd: Important to digest
Good Advice on COVID-19
ADVICE from a young Chinese researcher who had been transferred from Shenzhen to Wuhan to collaborate with the task force that is fighting the coronavirus epidemic. In addition to the advice given by various official bodies, it contains some extra useful tips that we’ve not seen anywhere else, which may help you avoid the virus. At least they can’t do you any harm. The researcher’s message:
We willingly transmit to all this clear, simple and accessible information, which describes exactly what the virus is, how it transfers from one person to another, and how it can be neutralized in everyday life.
Corona virus infection does not cause a cold with a dripping nose or catarrhal cough, but a dry throat and dry cough: this is the easiest thing to know.
The virus does not resist heat and dies if exposed to temperatures of 26-27 degrees [about 80 degrees Fahrenheit]: therefore you should often consume hot drinks such as tea, herbal tea and broth during the day, or simply hot water. Hot liquids neutralize the virus and it is not difficult to drink them. Avoid drinking iced water or eating ice cubes! For those who can do it, expose yourself to the sun.
From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19.
From Medical News Today:
Some viruses, such as cold and flu viruses, do spread more easily in the colder months, but that does not mean that they stop entirely when conditions become milder. As it stands, scientists do not know how temperature changes will influence the behavior of SARS-CoV-2.
From the BBC:
Heat and avoiding ice cream
There are lots of variations of the advice suggesting heat kills the virus, from recommending drinking hot water to taking hot baths, or using hairdryers.
One post, copied and pasted by dozens of social media users in different countries – and falsely attributed to Unicef – claims that drinking hot water and exposure to the sun will kill the virus, and says ice cream is to be avoided.
Charlotte Gornitzka, who works for Unicef on coronavirus misinformation, says: “A recent erroneous online message…purporting to be a Unicef communication appears to indicate that avoiding ice cream and other cold foods can help prevent the onset of the disease. This is, of course, wholly untrue.”
We know the flu virus doesn’t survive well outside the body during the summer, but we don’t yet know how heat impacts the new coronavirus.
Trying to heat your body or expose yourself to the sun – presumably to make it inhospitable to the virus – is completely ineffective, according to Prof Bloomfield. Once the virus is in your body, there’s no way of killing it – your body just has to fight it off.
Outside the body, “to actively kill the virus you need temperatures of around 60 degrees [Celsius]”, says Professor Bloomfield – far hotter than any bath.
Washing bed linen or towels at 60C is a good idea, as this can kill any viruses in the fabric. But it’s not a good option for washing your skin.
And having a hot bath or drinking hot liquids won’t change your actual body temperature, which remains stable unless you are already ill.
The virus crown is quite large (diameter about 400-500 nanometers), therefore any type of mask can stop it: in normal life, special masks are not needed. On the other hand, the situation is different for doctors and health professionals who are exposed to heavy virus loads and have to use special equipment.
Can wearing a medical face mask protect you against the new coronavirus?
If it’s a regular surgical face mask, the answer is no, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told Live Science.
A more specialized mask, known as an N95 respirator, can protect against the new coronavirus, also called SARS-CoV-2. The respirator is thicker than a surgical mask, but neither Schaffner nor the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommend it for public use, at least not at this point. That’s because, in part, it’s challenging to put on these masks and wear them for long periods of time, he said.
Specialists receive retraining annually on how to properly fit these respirators around the nose, cheeks and chin, ensuring that wearers don’t breathe around the edges of the respirator. “When you do that, it turns out that the work of breathing, since you’re going through a very thick material, is harder. You have to work to breathe in and out. It’s a bit claustrophobic. It can get moist and hot in there,” Schaffner said.
The thinner surgical mask is intended for surgeons, because these products do a good job of keeping pathogens from the doctor’s nose and mouth from entering the surgical field, Schaffner said.
In some Asian countries, such as Japan and China, it’s not uncommon to see people wearing surgical masks in public to protect against pathogens and pollution. But those masks don’t help much in the context of a virus, Schaffner said. “They’re not designed to keep out viral particles, and they’re not nearly as tightly fitted around your nose and cheeks” as an N95 respirator, he said.
“Could they be of some use? Yes, but the effect is likely to be modest,” Schaffner said.
He noted that some people wear surgical masks because they are sick with a cold or the flu and they don’t want to get other people sick. But if you’re sick, it’s best just not to go to public areas. “That’s the time to stay home,” Schaffner said.
People sick with COVID-19, however, should wear face masks to reduce the risk of infection to people around them, according to the CDC. Health care workers and those “taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility),” should also wear face masks, the CDC reported.
People wearing surgical masks should dispose of them after each use, the CDC added.
If an infected person sneezes in front of you, three meters away, the virus will drop to the ground and prevent it from landing on you. When the virus is found on metal surfaces, it survives for about 12 hours So when you touch metal surfaces such as handles, doors, appliances, supports on buses, trains, trams, etc., wash your hands well and disinfect them carefully.
The virus can live nested in clothes and fabrics for about 6-12hours: normal detergents can kill it. For clothes that cannot be washed every day, if you can expose them to the sun the virus will die.
From The Guardian:
The New England Journal of Medicine just published a study that tested how long the virus can remain stable on different kinds of surfaces within a controlled laboratory setting. They found that it was still detectable on copper for up to four hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and steel for up to 72 hours.
The virus is pretty stable on [materials] like plastic and steel – they can persist for a few days. So it’s very possible that someone who’s sick will deposit the virus on to the surface and then somebody else will touch it and touch their face.
[W]hile researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) in Montana have studied how long the new coronavirus can survive on cardboard, plastic, and steel, we don’t yet have that information about fabrics.
“I suspect that you can find viability of the virus for several hours to maybe a day on clothes,” infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Maryland, tells Health. “It depends largely on the environmental conditions—temperature and humidity impact the growth of the virus.”
In general, Dr. Adalja says he doesn’t believe that clothes act as a “major vehicle spread” for the new coronavirus.
How it manifests itself:
- The virus first installs itself in the throat, causing inflammation and a dry throat sensation: this symptom can last for 3-4 days.
- The virus travels through the humidity present in the airways, descends into the trachea and installs in the lung, causing pneumonia. This step takes about 5-6 days.
- Pneumonia occurs with high fever and difficulty breathing, it is not accompanied by the classic cold. But you may have the feeling of drowning. In this case, contact your doctor immediately.
How can you avoid it:
- Virus transmission occurs mostly by direct contact, touching tissues or materials on which the virus is present: washing hands frequently is essential. The virus only survives on your hands for about ten minutes, but in ten minutes many things can happen: if you rub your eyes or scratch your nose for example, you allow the virus to enter your throat. So, for your own good and for the good of others, wash your hands very often and disinfect the hard surfaces.
- You can gargle with a disinfectant solution that eliminates or minimizes the amount of virus that could enter your throat: in doing so, you eliminate it before it goes down into the trachea and then into the lungs.
From The New York Times:
There is no evidence that gargling warm water with salt or vinegar “eliminates” the coronavirus, a claim that has gone viral as part of a meme — the one with the glowing blue man — in multiple languages. It suggests that the coronavirus lingers in the throat for days before it reaches the lungs, and that a good gargle can stop the virus in its tracks.
That’s not true. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that gargling salty, warm water is one of many ways to soothe a sore throat, but there is no evidence that doing this will kill the coronavirus.
From McGill University:
“Alcohol in mouthwashes doesn’t actually kill bacteria.” The disinfecting alcohol you buy at the drugstore is 70-99% alcohol. By comparison, mouthwashes have concentrations of alcohol up to 25%, which fall short of an antiseptic effect.
- Disinfect your PC keyboard and mobile phones, People with the new coronavirus may not show signs of infection for many days, before which it cannot be known if a person is infected. But by the time you have a fever and/or cough and go to the hospital, your lungs are usually already in 50% fibrosis and it’s too late! Taiwanese experts suggest doing a simple check that we can do on our own every morning: Take a deep breath and hold your breath for more than 10 seconds. If you successfully complete it without coughing, without discomfort, a sense of oppression, etc., this shows that there is no fibrosis in the lungs, indicating essentially no infection. In such critical times, do this check every morning in a clean air environment!
From USA Today:
The Claim: Holding your breath for 10 seconds every day can self-check for COVID-19
Amid the sea of misinformation circulating social media, a self-check for COVID-19 is popping up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp. Social media users claim people can test themselves for COVID-19 every day by attempting to hold their breath for 10 seconds.
On March 13, one Facebook post with more than 150 shares explained the test, “Take a deep breath and hold your breath for more than 10 seconds. If you complete it successfully without coughing, without discomfort, stiffness or tightness, etc., it proves there is no (COVID-19 caused) Fibrosis in the lungs, basically indicates no infection.”
What experts say: The breath test is inaccurate
University of Maryland Chief Quality Officer and Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Faheem Younus tweeted on March 16: “Wrong: Most young patients with coronavirus will be able to hold their breaths for much longer than 10 seconds. And many elderly without the virus won’t be able to do it.”
On March 17, Dr. Thomas Nash, a New York Presbyterian Hospital internist, pulmonologist and infectious disease specialist, told Reuters the breath test was “just made up.”
Different posts mistakenly source the claim to an unnamed Stanford Hospital Board member, a Japanese doctor or Taiwanese experts. On March 13, Stanford University tweeted, “Misinformation about COVID-19 symptoms and treatment falsely attributed to Stanford is circulating on social media and in email forwards. It is not from Stanford.”
Stanford Health Care spokeswoman Lisa Kim told CNN on March 17 that the “dangerous” claim was not from Stanford Medicine and “contains inaccurate information.”
The March 13 post claimed the breath test checked for fibrosis caused by COVID-19. The post read, “By the time they have fever and/or cough and go to the hospital, the lung is usually 50% Fibrosis and it’s too late.”
Fibrosis is defined as “the overgrowth, hardening, and/or scarring of various tissues” caused by “chronic inflammatory reactions induced by a variety of stimuli including persistent infections, autoimmune reactions, allergic responses, chemical insults, radiation, and tissue injury.”
Dr. Robert Legare Atmar, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine called the post’s language “extremely alarmist” to CNN on March 17.
Nash told Reuters that “fibrosis takes months if not years to develop.”
Although COVID-19 can lead to pneumonia in some patients, which can eventually lead to fibrosis, Nash said this virus “is brand new and no one on the planet knows if it causes fibrosis.”’
The post also claimed the development of pneumonia was the second symptom of COVID-19, but according to the World Health Organization only patients with severe cases develop pneumonia.
Along with fibrosis and pneumonia, the post misrepresents COVID-19 symptoms as feeling “like you’re drowning.”
Atmar said COVID-19 patients likely wouldn’t experience that symptom, “That does not sound like any other respiratory virus people are infected with and many patients with coronavirus have not had nasal infection at all.”
Here is some serious and excellent advice from Japanese doctors who treat COVID-19 cases. Everyone should make sure that their mouth and throat are moist, never DRY. Drink a few sips of water at least every 15 minutes. WHY? Even if the virus gets into your mouth … water or other liquids will sweep it away through the esophagus and into the stomach. Once in the belly … gastric acid in the stomach will kill all the virus. If you don’t drink enough water more regularly … the virus can get into your trumpets and lungs. It is very dangerous!
Drinking water every 15 minutes
One post, copied and pasted by multiple Facebook accounts, quotes a “Japanese doctor” who recommends drinking water every 15 minutes to flush out any virus that might have entered the mouth. A version in Arabic has been shared more than 250,000 times.
Professor Trudie Lang at the University of Oxford says there is “no biological mechanism” that would support the idea that you can just wash a respiratory virus down into your stomach and kill it.
Infections like coronaviruses enter the body via the respiratory tract when you breathe in. Some of them might go into your mouth, but even constantly drinking water isn’t going to prevent you from catching the virus.
Nonetheless, drinking water and staying hydrated is generally good medical advice.