Because of the amount of advice available, it can be difficult for people to stay abreast of the facts about the virus.
Dr. Gero Baiarda, an NHS doctor currently on call at GPDQ – an on-demand GP service, described what he believes are 10 myths that need to be addressed:
– 1. The coronavirus is a living organism
The virus, officially named Sars-CoV-2, is technically “not alive,” said Dr. Baiarda.
He explained that the virus is simply “a super protein molecule rather than a living organism”.
Dr. Baiarda has suggested that as a result you “cannot kill” the virus, but that does not mean that it cannot be destroyed or broken down.
“The time it takes to decompose depends on the ambient temperature, humidity and the type of material on which it is deposited,” he said.
– 2. People are most contagious before they even know they have the virus
“This is not true,” said Dr. Baiarda.
He explained that the virus invades, infects and destroys cells, allowing millions of new viruses to be created that can be transmitted to others or spread on surfaces.
“The spread is therefore more effective in coughed droplets. Asymptomatic patients can however transmit the virus as soon as they are infected. “
– 3. Sars-CoV-2 is a robust virus
According to Dr. Baiarda, the virus is actually “surprisingly fragile”, its only protection being a “thin outer layer of lipids or fats”.
“This is why any soap or detergent, both of which break down grease, will destroy it – even washing up liquid works well,” he said.
This is also why it is so important that we all continue to wash our hands regularly with soap and water.
– 4. If the delivery drivers wear gloves, they will not spread it
” It’s wrong. Every element touched by a gloved hand can then be contaminated, “warned Dr. Baiarda.
He pointed to a recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine which found that the virus can survive for hours on cardboard.
“To stay safe, the best advice is not to touch the package until the next day,” he said.
– 5. The virus cannot be transmitted through food
This seems to be a subject of debate, as Dr. Baiarda takes a stricter approach to the risks posed by food than other experts.
Public Health England and the Food Standards Agency say it is “very unlikely” to get the virus from food or from food packaging.
Dr Baiarda recognizes that transmission through food is less likely than other means, but says it is “certainly still possible”.
“If someone with the virus on their hands touches food, it is very likely that they will become infected for many hours,” he said.
“To denature and inactivate the virus, food should be washed or cooked at 65 degrees Celsius at least for four minutes or more. “
– 6. A disinfectant with 60% alcohol is as effective as washing your hands with soap and water
“False. Splashing some alcohol gel on your palms and rubbing them together is not effective, “said Dr. Baiarda.
“You have to cover the entire surface of both hands, including your fingers and thumbs, but this should only be done when the hands are free of any residue – like after sneezing.
“Small bottles of disinfectant are part of the problem, because people assume that a small amount is enough. “
– 7. Drinking alcohol will keep people from getting the virus
Unfortunately for those who like a little tipple, this is not true.
The only alcohol that helps stop the spread of the virus is the one found in hand sanitizer.
Dr. Baiarda stressed: “It is only for external use, and even then it is only effective if it has a concentration of 60% or more, if you use enough and in the right way. “
– 8. Moisturizing hands after washing reduces cleanliness
Dr. Baiarda said, “Incorrect. Hydrating the skin is very important.
“The virus can lodge in the damaged skin of your hands chapped by repeated washing, so it is important to try to avoid this.
“Keeping your nails short will also reduce the risk of harboring and transmitting the virus. “
– 9. Hand washing is not as important during self-isolation as you are all virus free
Dr. Bairada argued that this perspective was simply “false”.
If you bring purchases, deliveries and mail to your home, hand washing remains important.
“Every time you wash your hands, you break the chain of infection. If in doubt, clean them up, ”he added.
This means for at least 20 seconds, with warm soapy water, then ideally using disposable paper towels rather than common towels.
If you use towels, try to stick to one per person and wash them daily, advised Dr. Baiarda.
– 10. Vinegar is good for keeping bathrooms and kitchens free from the virus
“Incorrect. Vinegar will not work against Sars-CoV-2 and is not advised, “said Dr. Baiarda.
“Cleaning bathrooms, kitchens and surfaces is always best done with hot tap water and a surface detergent like you always have. “
Dr. Baiarda said that people seeking to disinfect shared areas of a home can use a dilution of bleach or hydrogen peroxide.