WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

WHO: Coronavirus facts and myths

If you are sneezing, make sure to cover your mouth.

In Summary

• Also, vaccines against pneumonia and flu do not provide protection against the novel coronavirus.

• Until last week, only South Africa and Senegal had the capacity to detect the virus on the continent. 

Symptoms of Coronavirus.
IMPROVEMENT RECORDED: Symptoms of Coronavirus.
Image: COURTESY

With over 600 deaths and 17,000 infections in China, there have been many misconceptions about the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization has stepped up the fight against confusion and misinformation around the outbreak.

But what are the facts and myths around this deadly disease? Here are key things to know about coronavirus.

 
 
 

Will eating lots of garlic help?

WHO notes that garlic is considered a healthy food with some antimicrobial properties – but there are no indications it's helping anyone fight off 2019-nCoV.

Also, vaccines against pneumonia and flu do not provide protection against the coronavirus.

"It's simply too new, and work on a vaccine specifically for the new virus is still in process," WHO adds.

/WHO
/WHO

Can I contract the virus from letters, packages from China?

According to the WHO, people receiving packages from China are not at risk of catching the virus.

 

The WHO knows from previous analysis that coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.

 

What about pets? 

The 2019-nCoV may have come from animals, but your pets are not likely to be part of the equation.

"At present, there is no evidence that companion animals and pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus," WHO notes.

Still, to be safe, WHO advises that some common bacteria can pass between animals and people, such as E.coli and Salmonella.

"Washing your hands with soap and water can guard against them," it adds.

Who is most at risk?

In the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, 8,422 people were infected and there were 916 deaths worldwide.

In short, anyone can catch a virus. But the effect it will have on you, and how seriously ill you might become, can be dependent on several other factors.

Older people and anyone with pre-existing medical conditions, like asthma, diabetes or heart disease, appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the new coronavirus.

There are still things you can do, such as washing your hands, especially if you have been sneezing.

And if you are sneezing, make sure to cover your mouth.

WHO's advice comes even as it emerged that Kenya is expected to benefit from a new Sh68 billion (US$675 million) fund set up to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

It said Thursday that the fund would cover a preparedness and response plan between February and April 2020.

"My biggest worry is that there are countries today who do not have the systems in place to detect people who have contracted the virus, even if it were to emerge," WHO Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

Until last week, only South Africa and Senegal had the capacity to detect the virus on the continent. 

But yesterday, Ghana, Madagascar, Nigeria and Sierra Leone reported they can conduct tests as well. 

Kenya's head of disease surveillance Daniel Langat said Kenya has the capacity to test but lacks the required reagents.

Dr Langat said the WHO is sending the reagents to Kenya this week.