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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Separating Fact From Fiction

There’s been no shortage of news coverage or social media posts about the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, in recent weeks. It’s now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, and the Australian government has started to take measures to reduce the spread of the virus. When we’re exposed to near-constant coverage, it can be difficult to tell the difference between accurate, helpful facts and misinformation. In this blog, we’ll explain what coronavirus is, list its symptoms, and explain what you should do if you’re concerned you might have the virus. We’ll also dispel some common coronavirus myths that have been circulating on social media to help you separate fact from fiction.

What is coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause a range of diseases. Everything from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) can be categorized as a coronavirus. The strain of coronavirus currently classified as a pandemic, COVID-19, had never been seen in humans before late 2019, when the first case was identified in Wuhan, China. Medical professionals believe that COVID-19 evolved from a virus that affected animals, and was transmitted from bats to patient zero in China.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Everybody experiences the virus differently – some people will show no symptoms at all, while others will become very unwell. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, shortness of breath, coughing, sore throat, and fatigue.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s important that you book an appointment with your doctor. Let your doctor know before you attend the appointment that you are concerned you may have COVID-19, and wear a mask to your appointment as much as possible. Not everyone who is displaying symptoms of the virus will be tested for it – you’ll only be tested if your doctor decides you need to be. The Australian Government has set criteria that anyone who is tested for the virus must fit into:

– Have you returned from an overseas trip in the past fortnight and have a respiratory illness?
– Have you been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past fortnight?
– Do you have a serious pneumonia with no clear cause?
– Are you a healthcare worker with direct patient contact and have a respiratory illness?

You’ll need to wait a few days before your test results are delivered. Your doctor might send you home to self-quarantine while you wait for your results, or, if your symptoms are severe, admit you to hospital. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to remember that, while it’s possible you have COVID-19, you may actually have a different illness, such as influenza or a common cold.

DEBUNKING SOME MYTHS
If you’ve watched the news or scrolled through social media recently, you’ve probably seen and read hundreds of posts, articles, and videos about COVID-19. Unfortunately, not all of the information in those viral posts is true. We’re here to clear up a few dangerous COVID-19 misconceptions.

MYTH: COVID-19 cannot survive in temperatures above 27 degrees Celsius
Like many other COVID-19 myths, this misinformation originated on social media. Medical professionals, including the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have confirmed that this is not true. Because the virus is so new, there is not enough research to confirm if weather or temperature affect its spread or survival. The World Health Organization (WHO) does not believe that the virus behaves differently in hot or cold temperatures. This means that living in a hot climate, drinking hot water, or exposing your body to high temperatures will almost certainly not reduce your risk of infection or cure your illness.

MYTH: Alcohol-based hand sanitizer doesn’t protect against COVID-19
A Twitter user claiming to be a scientist started a rumour that hand sanitizer is not effective against COVID-19. It claims that, because hand sanitizer is anti-bacterial, it does not protect from viruses. This is not true – the WHO recommends using either alcohol-based hand sanitizers or soap and water to kill viruses that may be on your hands.

MYTH: Vitamin C can prevent and treat COVID-19
A misleading Facebook post by a well-known alternative medicine advocate suggests that high doses of vitamin C have slowed or stopped the virus from spreading. While it is true that vitamin C can’t ward off the common cold, there is also no evidence that it can either protect us from or cure COVID-19. Both the CDC and WHO have clarified that there is no medicine or vaccine (yet) that can cure the virus, but that patients can be treated for each of their symptoms.

To keep up-to-date with the latest information, don’t rely on social media – read the most current updates on the Department of Health website. If you are concerned about your health or have questions about your symptoms, contact a medical professional or call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

The Careerline Courses team wishes good health to you and your loved ones. We can all help each other stay safe and healthy by being proactive about our health, practicing social distancing, and listening to the advice of doctors and medical professionals.

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