Coronavirus fact or fiction: Some of the most common COVID-19 questions answered

While there is still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19, researchers and doctors are learning more about the coronavirus and how to avoid catching it. 

There are some obvious things that help prevent the spread such as regularly washing hands, coughing and sneezing into your elbow and social distancing. But there is also a lot we still don't know and as we adjust our lives to lockdown, questions arise. 

For example, do I need to wash my groceries? Can I catch COVID-19 from letters and packages? 

Newshub found answers to some of the burning coronavirus questions. 

Should I disinfect my groceries when I bring them home?

As people become more and more concerned about the virus, they are taking some unique approaches to staying safe, such as soaking fresh fruit and produce in soapy water before eating it.

However, this can present issues because it is replacing a potential virus with toxic chemical products, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University warns.

Professor Benjamin Chapman says soaking produce in soap could cause mild gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain, because produce is porous and will absorb cleaning products. 

Instead, it is recommended to wipe all surfaces used to prepare food and rinse all produce in cold water.  

How does COVID-19 spread?

The Ministry of Health says COVID-19 spreads like the flu and can be transmitted from person to person. Evidence shows it spreads through droplets when someone coughs, sneezes or talks. The droplets are too large to stay in the air for long and quickly settle on surrounding surfaces. The Ministry of Health says this is why it is important to regularly clean hands and surfaces.

Should I spray everyone with disinfectant before they come into the house?

The World Health Organization (WHO) says people should not spray disinfectant on themselves as it will not kill the virus that has already entered the body and can be harmful.

"Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to your clothes, eyes and mouth. 

Both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations," the WHO says. 

Can extreme climates kill COVID-19?

WHO says there is no evidence so far that shows hot or cold climates make it harder for the virus to spread. 

"The COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in all areas, including those with hot and humid weather. 

There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases. 

The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather."

How long does Coronavirus last on surfaces? 

How long the virus lasts depends on the surface it is on. Researchers at the National Institute of Health in Hamilton, Montana sprayed the virus onto various surfaces to determine how long it could survive. It could live for up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Meanwhile, it lasted for four hours on copper and one day on cardboard. The researchers also found that the virus survived in an air chamber for three hours.

While the virus can survive for 24 hours on cardboard, (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says transmission through mail and packages is low-risk.

Can I get coronavirus from my pet? 

There is no evidence animals can spread coronavirus. However, WHO recommends washing your hands with soap and water after coming into contact with animals to avoid common bacteria.

The CDC says anyone who has COVID-19 should avoid their pets as well as other people. 

"Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus."

Can you get coronavirus from a mosquito bite?  

WHO says there is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus can be transmitted by mosquitoes. 

"The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose."