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Feb 13, 2020

Healthy Living – Demystifying the Novel Coronavirus

Earlier, you saw the Ministry of Health’s first press conference on the new coronavirus or COVID Nineteen. They used the opportunity to update the public on the latest discoveries of the new virus and their efforts at prevention and preparation. Global, the number of new cases continues t rise. And this morning, the United States confirmed its fifteenth case. Meanwhile, in the Caribbean, the region is still considered at low risk for the virus. There is an overwhelming amount of information about the illness which is a mixture of facts, conspiracies theories and misinformation. Tonight’s Healthy Living we will help you to distinguish fact from fiction. 

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Emergencies generally stir a level of anxiety in people, whether it’s an approaching storm, rapidly spreading fire, tsunami warning, or a new virus. The current global public health emergency status bestowed on the coronavirus outbreak has exhibited the same flurry of information all over the news and the internet. And much like other emergencies in Belize, there is a fair share of rumors and misinformation that spread like wildfire. We are not alone in trying to decipher fact from lies. So here are some helpful tips to stay educated on the topic and less susceptible to misinformation.

To start, let’s use this example of misinformation that maybe you’ve seen circulating online:

That the virus is not new.  This myth came about when people noticed that products like Lysol or Dettol already state on their label that it can kill the “human coronavirus” – in addition to longer list viruses and bacteria. The photos and maybe your bottle at home can lead you to believe this is true; however, if you’ve been paying attention to the information. The COVID-19 is a new strain of a group of viruses called the coronavirus. It has never been detected in humans until the beginning of this year.

In other parts of the world, health officials are scrambling to correct the spread of potentially dangerous misinformation. A few weeks ago, social media posts went viral, claiming that by

Drinking or spraying your mouth with bleach, you can kill the virus if you come in contact with it.  This is not true and just overall dangerous to your health. WE in Belize trust our bleach to rid our floors and surfaces of harmful germs, but it was never created to be ingested.  You may have heard or seen claims around this next myth:

That packages and letters from China may introduce the virus into new countries.

This one may sound possible, but not when you investigate how long viruses can survive on surfaces and how the COVID-19 is transmitted. From what is known so far, the new virus seems to be transmitted like most respiratory illnesses through droplets from an infected person and contaminated surfaces. However, coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, as would be the case with letters or packages.

There are far too many myths to debunk in just one story. The World Health Organization has dedicated an entire page “Mythbusting” clarifying misinformation. The myths range from vaccines, about whether UV lights will kill the new virus or even whether spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body is effective prevention.

That is the most helpful tip on how to separate fact from fiction. Only trust reliable sources for your information like the World Health Organization, locally, our Ministry of Health, and respectable news outlets. Not because you’ve seen it online or on Facebook means it’s true. If the information sounds unlikely, start with a Google search and make sure the source is a credible one.  It is essential to keep yourself informed. And remember you can reduce your risk of the coronavirus infection by frequently washing your hands with soap. Coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and avoiding close contact with people with flu-like symptoms.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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