Can a package from China cause Coronavirus infection? Debunking the top 7 Coronavirus myths!

covid 2020_myth

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Poorvaprabha Patil, a 4th year medical student at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal,
India. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


With the rapid expansion of internet and communication, the spread of valuable information is now the fastest the human race has ever seen. Like flip sides of a coin, that also has paved the way for misinformation to spread at the same rate as that of valuable information, and the novel Coronavirus (nCoV) is no exception! Below are the most popular myths about coronavirus, debunked!

Myth #1: Packages from China are not safe

Fact- There is no risk of contamination by the novel coronavirus when receiving a package from China, as clarified by the WHO. As of this writing, scientists note that most viruses like this one do not stay alive for very long on surfaces, so it is unlikely you would get sick from a package that was in transit or was manufactured in China. 2019 novel coronavirus is transmitted by droplets from an infected person’s sneeze or cough, and more information is emerging daily.

Myth #2: Pets can spread the new coronavirus

Fact- There is no evidence at present to suggest that pets such as dogs and cats can be infected with the new virus. The WHO, however, recommends washing your hands with soap and water after contact with pets to protect against common bacteria that can pass between pets and humans.

Myth #3: Pneumonia vaccines, antibiotics can protect against nCoV

Fact- Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections and are futile against nCoV- which is a virus. Existing Pneumonia vaccines are also ineffective against nCoV.

Myth #4: Swallowing or gargling with bleach, alcohol, taking acetic acid or steroids can protect you from nCoV

Fact- The abovementioned recommendations have no role in preventing nCoV infections and can be harmful. Although washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, using soap and hot water can prevent nCoV and multiple other infections.

Myth #5: New coronavirus only affects older people

Fact- People of all ages can be infected by the virus. However, the WHO said older people and people with pre-existing co-morbidities (medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to falling severely ill with the coronavirus.

Myth #6: Regularly rinsing nose with saline helps in preventing coronavirus infection

Fact- There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.

Myth #7: The virus is a biological weapon built by China

Fact- At least two news sources- The Washington Times and The Daily Mail – have played a role in expanding on this conspiracy theory. But according to the Washington Post, experts agree there is no evidence the virus was engineered in a lab. PolitiFact also rated this claim false.

About the author

Poorvaprabha Patil is a 4th year medical student at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal,
India. She is the Vice President of Medical Students Association of India (an organisation
comprising of 25,000+ Indian medical students), the co-moderator of Healthcare Information For All (a network of over 18,000 people from 177 countries), the co- founder of Lumina Vitae- an NGO working on access to healthcare in rural India, and the Research Secretary of her college in Manipal. She is also a recipient of the ‘Indian Health Professional Awards’ and the ‘Women of the Future Awards’.

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