Although many of us are getting most of our information and updates from online sources these days, it does not mean the information is accurate. It is easy for people to post on social media and misinform many, which causes unnecessary panic. Conspiracy theories are also spreading falsehoods that make us feel that there are secrets to cures. It is important during this time to get our updates from trusted sources such as the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here are some myths that have been circulating.
- 5G mobile networks spread COVID-19
This is quite an odd assumption. However, according to the World Health Organization’s article on COVID-19 advice for the Public, “viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.” It is contracted through people in the event of coughing, sneezing or even speaking. People can also be infected by touching infected surfaces.
- You can’t recover and contracting COVID-19 means you will have it for life.
On the contrary, according to the World Health Organization, “people who contract COVID-19 can recover if they seek proper medical help.” It is important to treat it appropriately and quarantine and social distance yourself from others to protect them too.
- Spraying alcohol all over your body kills the coronavirus.
This will not kill the virus as the World Health Organization suggests. “Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes.” You need to be careful while using alcohol or chlorine and just using them as suggested.
- Chloroquine treats coronavirus.
While Chloroquine is being used in several areas to aid in treating the symptoms of COVID-19, there is no cure-all drug for the strain of coronavirus that is causing this pandemic. Chloroquine is a drug that can only be prescribed by a doctor. The drug is used as an antimalarial and amebiasis as well as a general anti-inflammatory. The Week’s article Mike Pence touting chloroquine as Coronavirus Treatment, reported that “Nigeria reported two fatal overdoses of chloroquine and implored its citizens not to use the drug.” The drug can cause harm or overdose if patients are taking more than the recommended dose. Do not self-medicate with Chloroquine if you are not prescribed the medication and are not showing symptoms of COVID-19 or any medication over the recommended dosage.
Max Fisher’s NYT article on Why Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Flourish and Why It Matters explains, “people are drawn to conspiracies because they promise to satisfy certain psychological motives that are important to people.” However, “the magnitude of misinformation spreading is overwhelming.” It is also quite dangerous. It may even make us feel even worse about the situation. “It has nourished not just individual conspiracies but a wider sense that official sources and data cannot be trusted, and a growing belief that people must find the truth on their own.” This is not the answer. Please have trust in health professionals and their advice on how to protect yourself. Staying inside and social distancing are some of the things that we can do to help flatten the curve for now. It is key to try to do our part so that the fearless health professionals and essential workers can do their jobs too.
Sara Mahgoub is a senior majoring in early grades preparation and minoring in journalism. SM863178@wcupa.edu