THE ongoing coronavirus outbreak has seen an explosion of claims on social media related to its origins and how much of a danger it really poses to the wider public.
Many believe it could have come from a bat soup in China and that their pets can be infected.
Meanwhile, others have claimed the normal flu is much more deadly while surgical masks have been flying off the shelves.
Here we discuss the biggest myths related to the virus.
‘The average flu is more deadly than COVID-19’
While there have been up to 46,000 flu-related deaths between October and February, that number is out of 45 million infections, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
That means a maximum mortality rate of under 0.1% – much lower than the 1% death rate associated with coronavirus.
Professor Steven Riley from the Imperial College London’s Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis told Sky News: “Using a variety of data, and correcting for known biases, we estimate that approximately 1% of people infected with this virus will die as a result of that infection.
“Although this is lower than diseases such as Ebola or SARS, it is considerably higher than seasonal influenza.”
‘Face masks protect you from COVID-19’
Cities across Spain have seen such a rush to stock up on surgical face masks that pharmacies across the country ran out of stock.
In Malaga, a pharmacist was arrested for stealing 13 boxes to take back to his village.
But the basic masks used by most surgeons are not very effective at all at protecting you from the coronavirus.
They rarely fit the person wearing them well and are not designed with filters to block out finer virus particles.
Additionally, breathing into the mask makes it moist, resulting in it being even less effective.
‘If I don’t touch anyone I’ll be fine’
While it’s true that avoiding human contact will lower your risk of catching coronavirus, it must be remembered that it can live on hard surfaces for several days.
From plastic to ceramics, glass and stainless steel, the COVID-19 can survive for up to four days.
It means washing your hands as advised is the most important thing you can do.
You should wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
‘My dog could catch coronavirus’
Despite a recent story in the Sun claiming a dog had been infected with coronavirus, this is not something to worry about at the time being.
According to the NHS, there is ‘currently no evidence that companion animals or pets can be infected with coronavirus’.
‘Summer heat will kill COVID-19’
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) was quick to shoot down claims by US President Donald Trump that the warmer temperatures of April would kill the disease.
Trump said in February: “A lot people think it goes away in April with the heat, as the heat comes in, typically that will go away in April.”
Dr Nancy Messionnier from the CDC said: “I think it’s premature to assume that. We haven’t been through even a single year with this pathogen.”
‘COVID-19 originated from bat soup’
As the outbreak began to gather pace, social media was awash with a video of a Chinese woman eating bat soup.
It sparked fury online and caused many people to blame the consumption of Asian delicacies on the coronavirus outbreak.
It turned out the video was recorded in 2016 in Palau, an island in the South Pacific, where the fruit bat is a local delicacy.
While academics have pointed to bats as potential hosts of the virus, there has been no connection discovered between humans.