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Travel And Coronavirus : Checking Facts and Busting Myths

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread globally, a host of misinformation and half-truths has flooded the internet. While the World Health Organisation(WHO) and local government agencies repeatedly warn against falling prey to this misleading information, it is easy to get confused about what’s true and what’s not. To save you from the hassle, here are some myths busted by WHO and experts around the world to help keep you informed!

Myth: COVID-19 virus cannot be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climate

Reality: Regardless of the climate, it is important to adopt protective measures while living in or travelling to any affected areas. As evidence suggests, COVID-19 can be transmitted in all areas. With more than 200 countries affected so far, it has spread to all areas irrespective of weather and climate. The best way to protect yourself is by cleaning your hands frequently.

Myth: Cold weather and snow cannot kill the coronavirus

Reality: Similar to hot areas, there is no evidence to suggest the opposite for cold weather and snow-clad areas as well. Normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the outside temperature. Hence the best way to stay safe is by constantly sanitizing yourself.

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Myth: Social distancing is only for high-risk and elderly individuals

Reality: The goal of social distancing is not just to protect high-risk individuals but also to slow down transmission. All of us must contribute to slowing down the spread of the virus by avoiding sick people or isolating ourselves if we have symptoms. All of this will reduce the number of people who will get infected and protect those who are at risk.

Myth: Only really crowded places need to be avoided

Reality:  The main aim of isolation is to avoid crowded places where you are likely to get affected and to stay away from remote areas in which you could be a carrier of the disease. With limited healthcare facilities and resources, it is best to stay away from extremely remote areas which could cause inconvenience to the locals or you in case of an emergency.

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Myth: All human interaction needs to be stopped

Reality: Social distancing aims to separate physically and not emotionally. Instead of heading for a night out at crowded bars, take this time to go for a walk or head out in the open air for a no-contact game with a friend or two. Once proper testing measures are implemented, there will be better information available on the dos and don’ts to adjust our lifestyle accordingly.

Myth: Coronavirus spreads only through sneezing and coughing

Reality: There are three modes of transmission- contact with contaminated surfaces, aerial droplets and breathing in the airborne virus. While the scientific community tries to figure out the relative importance of each mode, it is best to follow the WHO recommended public health guidelines of covering your cough/sneeze and frequently washing your hands.

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Myth: Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people infected with the new coronavirus

Reality: With airports around the world, screening visitors for detection, it is easy to assume that once someone passes the test, they are safe from the disease. While these thermal scanners are effective in detecting people with fever because of infection, they cannot detect people who are infected but not yet sick with a fever. It can take between 2 to 10 days to start showing signs of infection. Hence it is extremely critical to watch out for any symptoms during your travel or upon return.

Myth: If we do enough social distancing, we will see immediate results  

Reality: As past events suggest, in China, the streets have been empty for more than a month in an extreme form of social distancing. While there is much to learn from China, other countries around the world have been implementing social distancing to reduce the impact or strain on their health care system several weeks from now.

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With these facts in mind, it is necessary for all of us to stay away from creating unnecessary panic. As the world comes together to combat this infection, it becomes even more important for us as alert citizens to separate fact from fiction through official sources and stay safe!

‘Curated by Neha Bhise’