Rumors and myths about the novel coronavirus (nCoV) are spreading just as fast as the illness is.
Some of the false reports surrounding the fatal disease are ridiculous, others are plain racist, and a few are borderline nonsensical ... but people are still buying into them.
Experts believe these myths are detrimental to the fight against the disease, which is why it's incredibly important to debunk them.
So here goes:
1. It can infect people via products made in China
This myth circulated on social media and got people scared of receiving packages from China or buying products made in the country. But the only confirmed way people can get infected is through very close contact with someone who is sick.
According to public health experts, the new virus can't live on hard surfaces for more than a couple of hours. So rest assured, you won't be catching it via products or packages.
2. It happened because China banned the niqab
Unfortunately, this is only one of the many racist coronavirus myths making the rounds online.
People who launched it really think China has been "cursed" with this new virus because the country bans the niqab in public places. We only have one thing to say to those who've bought into this: Really?
Another unacceptable notion circulating online is that God is "punishing" China with this virus over its systematic torture of local Muslim communities. Trust us, this isn't the way viral illnesses and infections work.
3. You'll get infected if you eat Chinese food
No, you won't catch the novel coronavirus if you eat Chinese food. The World Health Organization (WHO) hasn't listed this as a risk factor.
4. You can catch it from a pet
Despite the fact that the current virus is believed to have originated in animals, there is no evidence that companion animals like dogs and cats can be infected or infect humans with the virus.
5. Garlic can help you avoid catching the virus
Thinking of rushing to buy all the garlic you can lay your hands on in a bid to prevent catching the new coronavirus? Well, sorry to break it to you but garlic won't do a lot in this case.
According to WHO, though garlic does contain some antimicrobial properties, "there are no indications it's helping anyone fight off 2019-nCoV."
6. It only affects old people
Though older people who contract the new virus are at risk of developing more complications than others, the illness can affect people of all ages.
7. The current flu shot can help prevent it
8. It can be treated using bleach
Please don't fall into the myth that says coronavirus can be cured if an infected person drinks bleach. There is no current treatment for the new strain of the virus and like all other viral illnesses, it cannot be treated with antibiotics.
9. Wearing face masks will prevent you from catching the virus
Wearing regular surgical masks or N95 respirators won't help people avoid catching the virus.
"Surgical masks are also loose-fitting, and when the wearer inhales, there is potential for particles to leak in or out of the sides," The Times reported. As for the more professional ones, N95 respirators are tight-fitting yet only recommended for healthcare professionals; they shouldn't be worn for long periods of time. "N95 masks are supposed to be fit tested to ensure they work correctly, so people who are not trained could put them on the wrong way, negating preventative effects," The Times added.
People are rushing to buy face masks in hopes of steering clear from nCov, while in fact only people surrounded by the virus - aka people in China and Wuhan, specifically - are the ones who need them.
Surgical masks and N95 respirators have reportedly sold out on online websites and some pharmacies in the U.S. This puts healthcare professionals and hospitals at risk of running out of masks.
The coronavirus continues to spread
Last week, WHO officially declared the current coronavirus outbreak as a global emergency.
This was a direct response to the continuous rise in the number of people being infected by the virus, especially in China. To deal with the national emergency, the East Asian country has turned an empty building into a 1,000-bed emergency facility in under two days to contain as many patients as possible. The illness has also been detected in 23 other countries including Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Italy, Germany, the UK, the U.S., and France.
More than 24,000 cases have been reported worldwide at the time of writing and the numbers continue to rise. This is because the current coronavirus (nCoV) is said to be highly contagious. Scientists at Britain's Imperial College estimate that each coronavirus patient infects on average 2.6 others.
According to WHO, measures that can be taken to prevent infection include: regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs, and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.