Coronavirus mythbusters: Sorting the facts from the fakes

It might seem like coronavirus (Covid-19) has taken over your news feeds. Wherever you look; social media, TV, radio, school and at home – everyone is talking about it.

Dr Alex George gives the lowdown on coronavirus facts and fake health news.

With so many coronavirus related health stories, myths and rumours, we all need to be aware of what is true and what’s not.

So, alongside A&E doctor Alex George, we’ve done the work for you and checked the facts from the fakes.

Remember to always go to a trusted source like Public Health England, the NHS or the World Health Organisation to check any stories that might come up over the next few weeks.

Should we all be wearing face masks?

No. According to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) advice, face masks will make little difference if you’re just walking around town so there is no need to bulk-buy.

It is however, crucial that health and social care workers wear them, and they are also recommended for people who are caring for someone who is ill, or who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus – ideally both the carer and patient should wear one.

Masks are only effective when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning and should always be thrown away properly into the bin whenever you remove it as they can carry germs just like a used tissue... ugh!

Can young people catch it?

Yes! People of all ages can be infected by coronavirus not just old people.

As with most illnesses, it can affect people differently, and people with existing health issues are most at risk, but yes, young people can become infected with coronavirus.

Healthy people, young or old may not always become seriously ill but they can become infected and this is the main thing everyone is trying to stop!

Can eating garlic protect me from Coronavirus?

NO! Drinking boiled garlic water, which some posts have suggested, or eating garlic will not protect you from coronavirus.

Yes, garlic is a healthy food that may have some antiviral properties which may help fight off a common cold but the World Health Organisation (WHO) have confirmed that there is no evidence that eating garlic has protected people from the current outbreak of coronavirus.

All it may do is keep people away from you as you may smell quite bad if you consume too much garlic….

Does taking a hot bath protect you?

Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19, the World health Organisation (WHO) has said. It can actually do more harm than good.

A normal body remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Using extremely hot water can be more harmful as it can cause burns. The organisation says washing hands regularly is the best way to stop the spread of the virus in its tracks.

Am I going to die if I catch it?

This is very much down to how healthy you were before you are diagnosed.

For the vast majority of people who don’t live with underlying conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes, if you do contract coronavirus, the symptoms will, potentially, be very similar to the flu.

Can I catch coronavirus from a package delivery?

With so many of us shopping online and using home deliveries for goods it’s a legitimate question. There is currently no evidence that you can catch coronavirus from parcels and letters, manufactured in China or elsewhere.

Even though the new coronavirus can stay on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (depending on the type of surface), it’s very unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after being moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures.

If you think a surface could be contaminated, use a disinfectant to clean it.

Make sure you get the facts straight.

Coronavirus is spreading but we can all play a part in trying to slow this down and protect ourselves and others. Don’t rely on rumour or gossip, go to a trusted source such as:

And follow the basic recommendations:

  • Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds – regularly & properly with soap and water or with hand sanitiser if water isn't available. Wash your hands whenever you get home or into work; whenever you blow your nose, sneeze or cough and before and after you eat or handle food

  • Catch it, bin it, kill it. Use a tissue rather than a hankie if you sneeze or cough and throw it in the bin

  • Minimise your contact with people who have a fever and cough

  • If you have a cough, fever or difficulty breathing seek advice over the telephone – do not go into your local surgery as you risk infecting others. Stay safe out there!

Where next?

Coronavirus symptoms: What are they and how do I protect myself?
Quiz: Debunking the coronavirus
Coronavirus: Your questions answered
Fact or Fake?