As the new coronavirus spreads around the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been working to make sure people have accurate information on how to stay safe and healthy.

There is currently no specific medicine to prevent or treat the virus, formally known as Covid-19, which has infected more than 200,000 people worldwide.

However, the WHO has advised people of all ages to take simple steps to protect themselves, such as by frequently cleaning hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.

Although older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to serious illness, the WHO has said all people should take steps to protect themselves from Covid-19.

You can find the organisation’s advice on some common myths and misconceptions about the virus below.

  1. Can Covid-19 be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates?

    Current evidence shows Covid-19 can be transmitted in all areas, including areas with hot and humid weather, and protective measures need to be adopted in any area reporting the virus, regardless of climate.

    There is no reason to believe cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases, as the normal human body temperature remains around 36.5 to 37C, regardless of the external temperature or weather.

    Taking a hot bath will also not prevent you from catching Covid-19, and taking a bath with extremely hot water can also be harmful as it can burn you.

  2. Can Covid-19 be transmitted through mosquito bites?

    There has been no information or evidence to date to suggest that the new coronavirus can be transmitted by mosquitoes.

    Covid-19 is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

  3. Can I use hand dryers and ultraviolet disinfection lamps to kill Covid-19?

    Hand dryers are not effective in killing the new coronavirus and to protect yourself, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

    Once your hands are cleaned, you should then dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.

    UV lamps should not be used to sterilise hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.

  4. How effective are thermal scanners for detecting infected people?

    Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever – those with a higher than normal body temperature – because of infection with Covid-19.

    However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever.

    This is because it takes between two and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.

    Countries must isolate, test, treat and trace to reduce coronavirus epidemics, says WHO

  5. Should I spray alcohol or chlorine on myself to kill Covid-19?

    Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body and spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes, such as your eyes and mouth.

    Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful for disinfecting surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.

    Similarly, there is also no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline can protect people from infection by the new coronavirus.

  6. Will a pneumonia vaccine protect me against the virus?

    Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against Covid-19.

    The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine, which researchers are currently working on trying to develop.

    Although these vaccines are not effective against Covid-19, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.

  7. What about antibiotics?

    Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria, and should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment for Covid-19 – which is a virus.

    However, if someone is hospitalised for the new coronavirus, they may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.

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