Coronavirus: From the rational to the random, your COVID-19 questions answered

A woman wears a mask as she waits for a train in Paris, Friday, March 6, 2020.
A woman wears a mask as she waits for a train in Paris, Friday, March 6, 2020. Copyright Michel Euler/AP
Copyright Michel Euler/AP
By Julie GaubertMaryam Toosi Tabibi
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The World Health Organization responds to questions - from the balanced to the bizarre - on how best to prevent COVID-19.


From the rational to the random, there are lots of questions flying around about how to prevent COVID-19.

Here we have reproduced some of the questions and answers that the World Health Organization published on its website.

Can the hot wind of hand dryers kill COVID-19?

No, it is not effective. To protect yourself against coronavirus you must regularly clean your hands with an alcohol-based detergent or wash them with soap and water. You should then dry them thoroughly using a paper towel or wind-dryer.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating COVID-19?

No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.

Can the radiation of disinfection lamps kill COVID-19?

UV lamps should not be used to sterilise hands or other parts of the human body because UV can cause skin irritation.

How effective are thermal scanners in detecting people infected with COVID-19?

Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever due to a COVID-19 infection, but cannot detect infected people who do not have a fever yet. This is why people with coronavirus develop a fever within two to three days.

Can spraying alcohol or chlorine on the body eliminate the COVID-19?

No. Spraying alcohol or chlorine on your organs cannot kill the virus that has just entered your body. Spraying such substances can damage clothing or mucous membranes of the body, such as the eyes and mouth. Alcohol and chlorine can be useful for disinfecting surfaces but should be used according to specific recommendations and guidelines.

Is it safe to receive a letter or parcel from China?

Yes, it is safe. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?

Currently, there is no evidence that pets, such as dogs or cats, can be infected with the virus. But it is always best to wash your hands with soap and water after each contact with pets. This protects you against the common bacterias between pets and humans.

Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against COVID-19?

No. These vaccines do not work against it. Of course, researchers around the world are working to discover and develop the coronavirus vaccine. However, the World Health Organization strongly recommends vaccination against respiratory illnesses to protect your health.

Can regular nasal washing with salt prevent the virus?

No. There is no evidence that salt is prevented from regularly washing the nose with coronavirus or lung infection. Limited evidence, however, suggests that regular nasal washings with salt can help with a faster recovery of the common cold.

Can eating garlic help prevent the infection?

Garlic is a useful nutrient that may have antimicrobial activity. However, there is no reason to believe it has protected people from developing coronavirus.

**Does rubbing sesame oil on the skin prevent **COVID-19 from entering the body?

Sesame oil does not kill the coronavirus. Of course, some chemical products exist such as bleach or chlorine-based disinfectants, peracetic acid and chloroform - which are useful for removing bacterias in general. But their function is only to cleanse surfaces. It has no significant effect but is also dangerous.

Are there any specific medicines for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19?

To date, no specific medication is recommended. Patients with the virus should now be under full medical care, and regular clinical examinations should provide them with some special treatments. The World Health Organization is working to speed up ongoing research to discover the drug for coronavirus.

Are only older people affected by the virus?

People of all ages can contract COVID-19. But the elderly and those with a history of diseases such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease are more vulnerable to the virus.

The World Health Organization recommends that everyone of all ages should follow personal hygiene instructions to protect themselves against the spreading. People with the virus should also avoid smoking and avoid using prescriptions.

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