Flatlander Faith

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Fake news about COVID-19

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Image by Vektor Kunst from Pixabay

Here are a few of the rumours circulating on social media about COVID-19, as reported in the French news magazine le Point and other sources. All are false.

1. The COVID-19 virus was created in a US laboratory. This rumour comes from a faulty reading of a US patent granted in 2003. The patent was granted to the researchers who were the first to isolate and identify the SARS virus, the cause of an earlier panic in 2003. This bit of fake news is a gift to the Chinese government’s propaganda machine which has launched a campaign to deny that COVID-19 originated in China.

2. Scientists have discovered that cocaine kills the corona virus. Not true; cocaine might kill the person who takes it, but has no effect on the virus.

3. Drinking lots of water will protect you from COVID-19. Good hydration is necessary for good health, but it has no antiviral properties.

4. The virus will disappear with the heat of summer. Nobody knows for sure what summer will do. In any case, it’s not heat that hinders the spread of the virus, but the increased humidity in the air. Some experts speculate the virus may lie low in summer, then return in fall.

5. The active ingredient in hand sanitizers is carcinogenic. False, these products are non-toxic and non-carcinogenic and may be used without fear.

Use this stuff

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Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Wednesday morning when I went for blood tests, all the staff were wearing face shields and I was asked if I had travelled recently or had contact with someone infected with the Covid-19 virus. Are these just normal precautions or local evidence of a worldwide epidemic of unreasoning panic? So far here have been no deaths from this virus in Canada and not a single case identified in Saskatchewan.

To put this panic in perspective, in an average year 3,500 people die in Canada from the seasonal flu. The worldwide death toll from this new virus is still somewhat less than that. 80% of those infected with this virus will have very minor symptoms, or none at all. The death rate is between 3% and 4%, mostly elderly people with existing health problems. Children appear to be mostly unaffected.

The best preventive measures are to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. Surgical masks are not really helpful and may be more of a danger than a help as they cause you to touch your face frequently to adjust the mask.

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