Published: 18th March 2020
Can cow urine cure Coronavirus? Four of the most ridiculous myths about COVID-19 BUSTED
With the rising number of Coronavirus cases across the world, we asked a doctor to bust the most ridiculous myths surrounding it, for us. Here's what we found out
As numerous countries go into lockdown across the world, the novel Coronavirus globally has 125,048 confirmed cases (6729 new), 4613 deaths (321 new) according to the World Health Organisations' latest situation report. Amid the pandemic becoming more intense with every passing day, fake news, myths and misconceptions are also equally gaining speed in creating panic among the public.
We spoke to Dr Navin Gnanasekaran, Associate Director of Medical Services and Senior Consultant Radiologist at MGM Healthcare, Chennai, who busted a few of the most common myths circulating about the novel Coronavirus, for us. "On social media there's a lot of hullabaloo regarding this as what kills the virus, how to be safe, what to eat or drink etc. Most of them don't have a sound scientific basis to it, so we need to discuss those as it's important to know what's true and what is not," Dr Gnanasekaran says.
Here are a few of them, dispelled, to keep you and your family healthy.
Hindu Mahasabha drinking cow urine in a bid to ward off Coronavirus (Pic: Reuters)
Myth: Consuming cow dung and cow urine can cure Coronavirus
In some places and several cities in India this has been administered as an antidote with a claim that it boosts our immune system and kills the virus. There have been instances where cow urine has been sprinkled on some areas as a disinfectant of sorts.
Doc busts: Let me tell you that scientifically there is no basis to this particular myth. It hasn't been proven or determined yet that cow urine or cow dung used in any form either as a surface applicant or administered orally, kills the virus.
Myth: Eating chicken in any form can lead to the contraction of COVID-19
With the sales of chicken and mutton going down due to the Coronavirus scare, it is jackfruit that is emerging as an acceptable alternative. The jackfruit, in fact, is now higher priced (Rs 120 per kilogram) than chicken which is selling at Rs 80 per kilogram due to poor demand. In fact, the Coronavirus scare has hit the poultry business in the country so badly that ministers in several states have organised chicken melas to dispel the misconception.
Doc busts: Prices of chicken have dropped in the market as people are apprehensive of consuming chicken and eggs. The flu that the chicken contracts is called the Bird Flu or Avian flu and here we are talking about a completely different kind of virus which has nothing to do with birds. If the chicken is healthy and place where it is kept is inspected, cleaned to ensure that they are disease free, it's reasonably safe to say that the consumption of chicken/eggs well-cooked does not lead to a Corona infection.
Myth: Coronavirus can be cured by snorting cocaine, drinking alcohol and bleach
A sudden widely circulated rumour has been in the spotlight over the past few weeks, which the health officials across the world have been trying to stop. Several people shared on social media that one can be protected from the virus by snorting cocaine and it can be cured by drinking alcohol and bleach.
Doc busts: I think this myth probably stems from the fact that handwashes/santisers using 60-70 per cent of alcohol kills the virus. But that is only when you apply non-edible, alcoholic preparations typically on your hands or as a surface disinfectant. When the virus comes in contact with those substances they die, but unfortunately they don't when you drink alcohol or any other intoxicating substance. Do not drink bleach or snort cocaine, these definitely won't kill Coronavirus, but they have the ability to kill you.
Myth: A face mask can protect any of us from COVID-19
Certain models or types of professional, tight-fitting face masks such as the N95 can protect healthcare workers from contracting the virus as they care for infected patients.
Doc busts: There are multiple kinds of masks: the two-layered masks, the three-layered masks and the N95 mask. The current guidelines from WHO say that not every one of us needs the N95 masks that is the highest form of masks. They are required only for professionals who conduct procedures or are caring for the virus-affected patients. For the rest of the general public without respiratory illness, wearing lightweight disposable surgical masks is not necessarily recommended. As the masks don’t fit tightly, they may allow tiny infected droplets to get into the nose, mouth or eyes. WHO has now recommended wearing masks in crowded places but it only protects your airways but Coronavirus spread in various different ways. One is through aerosols - coughing/sneezing, second way is through droplet infection - the infected person has sneezed onto a surface and the virus thrives on it for some hours, then the other person comes into contact with that same surface. Just wearing masks alone cannot completely protect you.
Quick safety tips:
1. Washing hands with soap for 20 seconds
2. Using hand sanitisers from time to time when you are outdoors
3. Contact areas that have to be surface disinfected — public spaces like hospitals, malls, theatres
4. Avoid meetings, avoid crowded places and large gatherings