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World Health Organization weighs in on facts, myths about COVID-19

A patron washes their hands at a hand washing station.
A patron washes their hands at a hand washing station. (2020 Getty Images)

There is a lot of information coming out each day about the novel coronavirus COVID-19, but amid the pandemic, there are also a lot of myths.

The World Health Organization is setting straight some invalid things you might have seen or heard about COVID-19.

Fact or myth? An ultraviolet disinfection lamp can kill the virus on skin. MYTH.

Not only should ultraviolet radiation not be used to sterilize the skin, it can also cause skin irritation.

Fact or myth? Hand dryers are effective in killing the novel coronavirus. MYTH.

WHO recommends frequently cleaning your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Then, dry your hands thoroughly with a paper towel or warm air dryer.

Fact or myth? The new coronavirus can not be transmitted through mosquito bites. FACT.

WHO says there is no evidence to suggest this. COVID-19, a respiratory virus, spreads primarily through droplets generated by an infected person. That can include a cough, sneeze, droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

Fact or myth? Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body can kill the coronavirus. MYTH.

While alcohol or chlorine can be useful in disinfecting surfaces, neither will kill viruses that have already entered your body. In addition, spraying these substances can be harmful to mucous membranes (like eyes, mouth, etc.) and clothes.

Fact or myth? There are no specific medicines to prevent or treat the COVID-19 virus. FACT.

While there are measures that can be taken to relieve and treat symptoms of the virus, there are no specific medicines recommended to treat or prevent the virus itself at this time. However, there are treatments under investigation that will be tested through clinical trials.

WHO officials say they are helping to accelerate research and development efforts.

Fact or myth? COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in hot and humid climates. FACT.

WHO says evidence shows the new coronavirus can be transmitted in all areas, despite the climate.

Fact or myth? Eating garlic can help prevent infection with the novel coronavirus. MYTH.

Though garlic is a healthy food with some antimicrobial properties, no evidence shows eating it has protected people from COVID-19, WHO says.


Along with myth busting, WHO also addressed a couple of commonly asked questions regarding the new coronavirus.

Can vaccines for pneumonia protect against COVID-19? NO.

Ones that work against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, will not protect you. This specific virus, because it’s so new and different, will need its own vaccine.

Regardless, WHO recommends getting vaccinated against respiratory illnesses to protect your health.

How effective are thermal scanners in detecting people infected with the new coronavirus?

Thermal scanners can not detect those who are infected with the new coronavirus. However, they can detect people who have a fever.

WHO added that it can take between two and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.


Have you seen or heard something about COVID-19 that you aren’t sure is true? Email us here and we will do our best to find an answer for you.


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