Myths about coronavirus busted

As the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads around the world, so do the myths and misinformation.

Here are six myths you may have heard about the virus and the science which debunks them.


Myth 1: Face masks protect you from getting coronavirus

Face masks are designed to stop the spread of coronavirus but aren't foolproof. They are effective at capturing droplets from the mouth, which is one of the main transmission routes of the virus.

According to The Guardian, you get five-fold better protection if you wear one. But the masks don't lie flat on the face and are not designed to block out viral particles so won't completely stop the spread if you are around those infected with the virus.


Myth 2: If you get coronavirus you will die

Most people who have coronavirus only experience the effects of it mildly with symptoms similar to the flu. The current death rate for coronavirus patients in Wuhan is only 2 percent, the New York Times reports.

The BBC says approximately only 0.5 percent of patients under 50 who had coronavirus have died, according to the Chinese Centres of Disease Control.

If you are in your 50s that increases to 1.3 percent, 60s is 3.6 percent, 70s is 8 percent and over 80s is 15 percent.

So while you are seeing large mortality rates it is because the virus has been largely spread, not because everyone that gets it dies.

Myth 3: Pets can spread coronavirus

There is no evidence household pets such as cats and dogs can be infected with the virus, despite a dog in Hong Kong testing weak-positive for the virus.

It is believed the dog picked up bacteria with the virus on it from a contaminated surface, CNN reports.

But the World Health Organisation recommends washing your hands with soap and water after coming into contact with animals to avoid common bacteria.


Myth 4: You can get coronavirus from eating at Chinese restaurants

Coronavirus doesn't just affect people of Chinese descent.

It has also been spread over the world so if that was the case, you would have to avoid your local Italian, Korean, Japanese and Iranian restaurants as well, Live Science says.

But currently Chinese restaurants in New Zealand are feeling the effects of this myth with many struggling to get customers at the moment.


Myth 5: The virus was made in a lab

There is no evidence that the virus is man-made and coronavirus closely resembles two other viruses that have triggered outbreaks in recent decades. Live Science says the characteristics of it are similar to SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, both of which originated in bats.


Myth 6: You are more likely to get the flu than coronavirus

To estimate how easily a virus spreads, scientists calculate the virus' basic reproduction number which predicts how many people may catch the illness from each other person infected.

The flu's number is 1.3 people which means each infected person infects 1.3 others, Live Science says.

But coronavirus' number is at 2.2 which means you are more likely to catch it, despite there only being one confirmed case in New Zealand so far.