COVID-19 Myth Busters FAQs

Myth Busters FAQs

Demystifying the coronavirus pandemic - FAQs

A virus is a microscopic piece of genetic material surrounded by a coat made of proteins. It enters healthy cells and hijacks them, creating copies of itself. When viruses begin replicating inside a living organism, they can cause an infectious disease. In the case of the coronavirus pandemic, the virus is SARS-CoV-2.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by SARS-Cov-2, which is part of a large family of viruses called Coronaviruses (CoV). Coronaviruses cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). COVID-19 is referred to as being ‘novel’, as it had not been previously identified in humans prior to the outbreak in Wuhan, China in 2019.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means they are transmitted between animals and people. Where animals and humans cross paths, an animal virus can sometimes mutate to enable it to infect a human host and subsequently pass to another human. COVID-19 appeared in humans in this way.
Like other viruses, scientists believe that COVID-19 spreads through droplets released from an infected person containing the virus which gets into your body through your eyes, nose, or throat. Most often, this happens through your hands.
COVID-19 typically causes respiratory symptoms and the most common signs of the infection include a high fever and a new and continuous cough. The majority of those infected will develop mild to moderate symptoms, but in more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and kidney failure.
Although several drugs are being investigated, there is currently no specific agreed treatment for COVID-19. Antibiotics do not work. The aim should be to relieve symptoms whilst your body fights the illness and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Beware of false information circulating – always check a reputable source e.g. WHO Mythbusters:
Despite rumors, there is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen worsens COVID-19. However, until more information is obtained, it is advised to take paracetamol to treat symptoms, unless your doctor has told you that paracetamol is not suitable for you. If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first.

Keep up to date with this information here:
A vaccine against COVID-19 is still under development but there are several actions you can take to protect yourself and those around you. This is particularly important for people who are aged 70 or over, have a long-term condition, are pregnant, or who have a weakened immune system.
Hands are one of the most common ways that COVID-19 spreads from one person to the next. During a global pandemic, one of the cheapest, easiest, and most important ways to kill the virus and prevent further spread is to wash your hands diligently and frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.

For information on how to wash your hands correctly:
Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose, or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. Droplets released when you cough or sneeze spread the virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
Keep yourself and your immune system healthy by eating healthily and getting adequate sleep and exercise. Refrain from smoking or other activities that weaken the lungs.
Maintain at least 2 metres (3 steps) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
This is called self-isolation. If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention but call in advance. Follow the directions of your health provider who will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.

If you are self-isolating, you must:
  • Not leave your home for any reason, other than to exercise once a day – but stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people
  • Not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
  • Not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home

You can use your garden, if you have one.
You will also need to largely stay at home if you have been told to comply with social distancing measures. Social distancing means taking steps to reduce the social interaction between people (even if they display no symptoms of COVID-19) in order to avoid the transmission of the virus. Many countries are using this strategy to slow down the spread of the virus, reduce mortality rates, and reduce pressures on health services. Social distancing measures include staying at home (including working from home) as much as possible and avoiding non-essential use of public transport and meetings / gatherings - including with family and friends.
Some types of facemask when worn properly can protect medical staff treating patients with COVID-19. Masks can also contain people’s own coughs and sneezes, but if you are healthy you do not need to routinely wear one.

Find out more about coronavirus protection strategies here:
Everyone experiences stressful situations due to a range of factors and that of the outbreak of COVID-19 is no exception. Unsettlement and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.

We all react and cope with stressful situations differently. During this outbreak it is important we are extra cautious of the wellbeing of ourselves and those around us. Advice on coping with stress and anxiety for a range of people from parents and those released from quarantine can be found here:
Environmental cleaning in healthcare facilities or homes housing patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection should use disinfectants that are active against enveloped viruses, such as COVID-19 and other coronaviruses. There are many disinfectants, including commonly used hospital disinfectants, that are active against enveloped viruses. Currently WHO recommends the use of:

  • 70% Ethyl alcohol to disinfect reusable dedicated equipment (e.g. thermometers) between uses
  • Sodium hypochlorite at 0.5% (equivalent 5000ppm) for disinfection of frequently touched surfaces in homes or healthcare facilities

For more information on infection prevention and control for health care workers: